Posts Tagged ‘ New York Dolls ’


Lou Reed Remembered


Yesterday October 27th was just another Sunday morning apart from the fact disorientation had set in due to the official arrival of winter with the clocks going back encouraging me to get up at an hour unthinkable a few years back. The only other thing slightly out of the ordinary was the fact I had an overwhelming urge to listen to Lou Reed’s Berlin album.

Usually an album which requires a certain mood as it is a dark, despairing and harrowing listen with little recommendation or redemption for any of its protagonists, even if its message is cloaked in some of the most awe inducing beautiful music ever recorded. Suffice to say it requires melancholic tendencies and I was far from feeling even remotely down; quite the opposite in fact. Melancholy, despair and shock arrived  only a few hours later however as I would be overwhelmed with feelings of sadness  when news of Lou Reed’s death, at the age of seventy one, began to filter through on social media and was later sadly confirmed as fact.

 Two days previously had seen an internet hoax reporting Reed’s death spread like wildfire before it was announced he was alive and kicking. As far as anyone knows at this stage he wasn’t even showing signs of the symptoms which eventually claimed him so some scepticism met the original Sunday reports of his death. In hindsight this made the news even sadder as on one of his last days on earth he had to deny he had died then forty eight hours later he was actually gone for real. In some ways this was typical Lou- rising to a challenge-who many had predicted wouldn’t live through the seventies never mind into his seventies.

 Like many others of my generation my introduction to Reed came through that font of all knowledge, David Bowie, when he tried to resurrect the faltering career of his idol by co- producing his album Transformer with Mick Ronson. Many evenings were spent with a select, elite group of friends lounging on bean bags applying nail polish, smoking mentholated cigarettes and contemplating sex in the hall as we listened to this album with its tales of decadent New York and colourful characters- Candy, Holly, Jackie and Little Joe- who we discovered were real and, at the time, all  very much alive.


 Other favourites were the New York Dolls, early Roxy Music, The Sex Pistols and Bowie but Lou seemed darker and more dangerous- look at how his made up panda eyes glared past and through you on Transformer’s metallic cover- promising a subterranean demi-monde where it was always after midnight and debauched glamour was the entry code. On top of all this he was the best singer ever and he couldn’t even sing. Perfect!

 Transformer provided a perfect point of entry to Reed’s work and before long I investigated and discovered his Velvet Underground back catalogue which totally blew my mind. To the point I still refer to their debut The Velvet Underground and Nico as my all time favourite album. It had everything; sex, drugs, sado-masochism, twisted love songs, thrashing guitars, Reed’s throwaway drawl, Nico’s Germanic icy cool and Andy Warhol’s Factory people. Here was a record which inhabited a universe all its own and unlike Bowie’s exotic characters Reed’s subject matter actually existed. Oh, how I wanted to be there!

 Discovering Lou Reed was akin to finding a guiding light in my life. He spoke to me through the medium of song in a way I could never envisage my father speaking to me. Lou understood and prevented me from feeling I was wrong when my surroundings were screaming at me otherwise. ‘White Light/ White Heat’, ‘Candy Says’, ‘What Goes On’,Kill Your Sons’, ‘Sad Song’ and ‘Satellite of Love’ are just some of the songs embedded in my emotional hard drive eternally. How also can I forget the perfect chords of ‘Sweet Jane’ or the auto biographical Rock ‘n’ Roll’? As for the blistering assault of the seventeen minutes of mayhem that is ‘Sister Ray’, which at its denouement still leaves me feeling drained, exhilarated, confused, relieved and hyperventilating all at once; well it may be a cliché but they really don’t make them like that anymore.

 Lou Reed meant something not just to me but to so many others and he will continue to mean something. At some time we all have to take a walk on the wild side hitching a ride on a satellite of love and obviously Sunday October 27th was when Lou felt that final beckoning tap on the shoulder calling him. I could go on but really I have only one thing left to say and that is ‘Thank You ’.


Just An Observation Friday October 25th


Well the long awaited revolution so many of us have wished for gained some screen time on Newsnight this week and arrived not courtesy of the latest highly educated whiz kid politician but from the unlikely source of comedian/actor, Russell Brand. in a thoroughly engaging and convincing interview with regular curmudgeon Jeremy Paxman, or ‘Jeremy darling’ as he will henceforth be known thanks to Brand’s affectionate terming of this supposed political heavyweight, the entertainer put forward a thoroughly convincing and impassioned argument.
Admittedly never a great admirer of Brand’s in the past finding his stand up irritatingly puerile and the least said about his acting abilities-never mind his choice of roles and former wife, the even more irritating Katy Perry- the better. However he has gone someway to reconstructing himself as a social and cultural commentator and in this area I feel he is pretty much unsurpassed in addressing issues politicians, journalists and most other celebrities-Morrissey a notable exception occupies a lot of the same territory but more about him later- simply do not. Dismissed by Paxman as a ‘trivial man’ Brand’s calls for revolution may on the surface come across as exactly that but dig deeper into what he is actually saying and the truth provides a concrete basis for his vocal exhortations and facial grimaces. A cheesy smile occupied his face for most of the interview and Paxman would have done well to remember the old adage ‘Beware the smiling assassin’ as at the interview’s conclusion there was no doubt as to who had trounced who.
‘Profit is a filthy word’ and ‘not voting out of absolute indifference’ were just two notable quotes in an argument which at times was peppered with florally enhanced adjectives but still managed to put across its basic terms. There is no representation in politics for a huge part of our society and I am part of that section which has no representation. The best vote open to me is for the lesser of two evils
which may go someway in preventing the greater evil triumphing.
This option however is riddled with a fatal flaw as anyone who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the last General Election discovered. I remember speaking to a young first time voter shortly after the election when the Lib Dem’s had joined forces with the Tories in the disastrous collision still in power and he was already disillusioned as voting Liberal-which he considered the most humanitarian and fair option open to him- he had found himself complicit in electing the Tories into power when his objectives had been quite the opposite. This is the disillusioned and disenfranchised populous Brand was referring to who, from what I can see, are all around me and I number myself amongst them.
As for revolution well, why not? If the EDL can make political inroads in opposition to the fairer aspects of our political system why can’t we take charge and oppose the less fair ones. Sometimes it really is that simple it is just important to not let complacency get in the way. That is the real enemy!
As mentioned earlier Morrissey is just as much an activist and has spent his career being a proverbial fly in the ointment. It is unimportant whether you like his music or not although this week The Smiths album The Queen is Dead was voted the best album of all time in the NME in a chart which, for a change, seemed to possess some integrity and validity-two of my personal top three Patti Smith’s Horses and The Velvet Underground and Nico were there with only The New York Dolls missing from the top ten- but as an artist he has always spoken out on subjects others were too scared to address or considered taboo.
His Autobiography however is redefining that overworked genre and is brilliantly written in an area where the likes of nineteen year old Harry Styles- grew up in privileged background, entered talent show, made millions-proliferate and , that filthy word again, profit. It is also obvious that he has written this book himself and the use of language is impressive, evocative and wholly descriptive. Having grown up in the greyish blacks and whites of Manchester in the sixties and seventies this harsh reality never really left him even when, as the last of the international playboys, he is breakfasting with David Bowie. Intermittent snippets of conversation between these two figureheads and reluctant representatives of different generations allow us to discern that the world of the celebrity is mundane and all most of them have in common is their status and prestige. One senses he feels more comfortable with and in awe of the low rent ‘Carry On’ stars of his childhood than the Bowies, Julie Christies and other A-Listers he encounters.
As for his much publicised admission of a sex life, well that is done in true Morrissey fashion by alluding as opposed to out and out confession. If one gains any sense of a true love in Morrisey’s life then it can be directed towards the New York Dolls rather than any individual. Jake Walters would appear to come closest to capturing his heart but even he emerges as a temporary fixture whilst the Dolls are a constant source of joy and love throughout.
Definitely an autobiography which lives up to its apocryphal title and provides what most of us want from such a tome in that it names and shames constantly and he doesn’t stop at grinding his axe but continues to swing it with reckless abandon much to the reader’s delight and amusement. It is about time someone used their position to tell it how it is and just as refreshing is his deeply descriptive telling of pivotal life moments which also are not your typical fare.
Tonight sees 2013’s last instalment of Neu Reekie with an impressive line up including Withered Hand, Kei Miller, Rachel Mc Crum amongst others. The main act for me tonight bthough has to be Teen Canteen who are also promoting their excellent debut single ‘Honey’ coincidentally released on the Neu Reekie record label-these people are already following Brand’s doctrine of getting off their arses and making something happen. This is just one of several live gigs lined up around the country over the next coming weeks including one at RAMMED in the Voodoo Rooms on November 16th. Definitely one of the best Scottish acts on the circuit at the moment catch them while you can at these more intimate venues as it is only a matter of time before this changes as their star is very much in the ascendant.
Here to get your weekend off to a flying start is the video directed by Jonathan Feemantle of that aforementioned single ‘Honey’ released this week.


New York Dolls


Bursting in with a crashing wall of guitars, a cascading piano line, kick ass drums and a blood curdling, howling wolf yelp of ‘Waaaah Oooooh’ before a tantrum induced ‘yeah, yeah yeah’ volleys back with  ‘no, no, no no’  summing up the confusion and hormonal rush of adolescence perfectly, the New York Dolls launch into ‘Personality Crisis’  providing one of the great-if not the greatest- intros in rock and roll. Ever!

 From this enthralling outset it was clear that this was no ordinary band: Marc Bolan may have been responsible for ushering the seventies in whilst David Bowie launched them into orbit but it was the Dolls who took them by the scruff of their neck and throttled the life both into and out of them.

 It is fitting, in many ways, that it took a bunch of dragged up ,drugged up and wised up street kids to finally obliterate the sixties hangover which had permeated the early seventies as  the sexual ambivalence and androgyny hanging in the air crystallised in the Dolls’ ambisexual thrift store meets hooker garb and unrestrained sounds.

 Already a hit in their native New York drawing the attentions of the Andy Warhol Max’s Kansas City set- Debbie Harry, Wayne/Jayne County and The Ramones were early devotees- by the time the Dolls entered the studio they had already lost  original member 20 year old drummer Billy Murcia who, after a mandrax and alcohol fuelled evening, drowned in a bathtub in London only days after the band played their biggest gig to date supporting The Faces at Wembley. Following this ill fated English visit –which also saw a petulantly jealous and paranoid Lou Reed refusing to allow them onstage as his support act- Jerry Nolan was drafted in and provided some much needed musical muscle to the bands sound; demos of the band with Murcia lay testament to this as his drumming lacked both the visceral punch and technique of Nolan’s.

  After this dilemma had been addressed it was time for the Dolls to enter the studio proper with the issue of finding a suitably sympathetic producer next on their agenda. From a wish list which included both David Bowie and Phil Spector eventually a fellow native New Yorker and contemporary wunderkind Todd Rundgren was selected and the Dolls-unwilling and unable to follow the rigours and diligence of recording rules- were ready to move their seven day weekend party from Max’s into the studio in one swift move. Once in the studio the chaos ensued but this is what probably still makes The New York Dolls such a thrilling experience forty years down the line.

 Opening with the aforementioned ‘Personality Crisis’ the album announced its intentions from the get go. Crashing guitars provided a backdrop over which howling vocals snarled out words which simply demanded to be sung adding the icing then demolishing the cherry on the top of the cake. It was a perfect statement of intent and could hardly have failed to captivate anyone who heard it which, unfortunately in 1973, weren’t very many at all or at least nowhere near as many as should have.

The Dolls were off the starting blocks however and next track ‘Looking For A Kiss’ filched the opening line from the Shangri La’s ‘Give him a Great Big Kiss’ –‘When I say I’m in Lurve you best believe I’m In  Lurve .LU.V!’- replacing their sixties innocence with seventies knowing and sleazed up intentions. ‘I need a fixin’ a kiss’ maintained vocalist David Johansen proclaiming  ‘I feels baaaad’ but making it sound so good as he trawls the streets ‘haulin’ booty all night long’. Possibly the quintessential Dolls song it careens along with malicious and devious intent.

 The third track is the politically conscientious ‘Vietnamese Baby’ where the Dolls momentarily put sex and drugs to the side and reconvene as avenging angels with Jerry Nolan’s rapid fire militaristic drumming adding dramatic edge to an already powerful song. ‘Lonely Planet Boy’ slows things down with acoustic guitars and a saxophone solo and is the Dolls’ big ballad number. All wistful yearning and aching melancholy it is the height of youthful romance even if it does seem to allude to heroin, ‘You bring me some from your other boys’, although at this juncture none of the band had the drug habits which later blighted their reputation and ambitions.

‘Frankenstein’ rounds off side one’s proceedings nicely-in the days of vinyl such matters were important- and it is a soaring monolithic powerhouse of a song delivered in cinemascope: hysterical melodrama, duelling guitars, intense claustrophobic heat and frantic crescendos all conspire to hit heights which perfectly depict the Manhattan skyline and the skyscrapers dominating the drama. Add to this an indomitable Spectorish wall of sound and the whole exercise emerges as the Dolls’ very own ‘River Deep Mountain High’.


The second side kicks off with little fanfare and rushes headlong into the perfection of ‘Trash’ with its aching pleas, plaintive yearning lyrics, reverberating drums, ‘ooh, ooh,’ surfing backing vocals and another girl-band swipe –‘Uh ! How you call your lover boy? – delivered at a crucial moment to maximum effect. This should have been released as a single and stormed to number one all over the universe and forty years later the question ‘why wasn’t it?’ still echoes.

‘Bad Girl’ is a more traditional Stones-like rocker- comparisons to the Stones always plagued the Dolls but at this juncture the Stones were nodding off headfirst into drug somnolence and their ‘Goats Head Soup’ whilst serving up insipidly trite but undeniably catchy numbers such as the whiney ‘Angie’- and trundles along with its own lustful intentions. ‘Subway Train’ introduces sophistication into the Dolls routine, picking up and slowing down as the song demands. Both real and ridiculous-‘Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, I just know’- it showed off both musical skill and song writing chops in equal measure and should have silenced any non-believers who still maintained the Dolls were talent-less cross dressing charlatans..

 Famous for choosing and delivering suitable cover versions in their live act the only non-original on the album is ‘Pills’ which, although written by Bo Diddley, the Dolls moulded it to their sound and needs so perfectly it is now considered theirs in all but name. ‘’Private World’ is a rumbling bass driven ‘Louie Louie’ type number and the solitary song writing contribution by giant haystack and the only living statue in rock and roll- a term coined affectionately for him by Johansen- Arthur ‘Killer’ Kane .  ‘

‘Jet Boy’ brings the album to a close in a maelstrom of handclaps, unforgettable hooks and a middle section which sees guitarists Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain perform aerodynamics against the New York sky with no landing strip in sight. It is a truly cacophonous piece of wonderment and rounds things off perfectly.

 By the time the album was released the Dolls had already received sufficient amounts of good and bad press and although the album received generally favourable reception it was still not enough for the public to buy it in sufficient numbers. A major stumbling block-particularly in America where glam was not such big news- was the cover which saw the band each in varying stages of fucked up drag and androgyny arranged artfully on a couch daring or inviting you to enter their world. It was a cover which promised so much but required a certain amount of bravery to actually get past as even in the year Bowie was at his most outrageous glam peak it was as far from the mainstream as you could get.


 A visit to London shortly after culminated in two successful shows at Biba’s and a legendary TV appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test which many of those watching-Joe Strummer , a couple of Sex Pistols and, most notably, future uber fan Morrissey among them- claimed fired the starting pistol for punk.

Malcolm McLaren fell in love with them as soon as they stumbled into his shop on the Kings Road; an infatuation which saw him eventually managing them then misguidedly dress them in red patent leather and adopt Communist manifestos. By this time the band was in disrepair and virtually unmanageable but he already had the blue print for his own ideas which eventually became the Sex Pistols.

Their influence was already being absorbed however and Bowie’s ‘Aladdin Sane’ album of that year was rife with Dolls references: ‘Watch That Man’ is about a night on the tiles with Johansen and girlfriend Cyrinda Foxe-who also served as inspirational muse for ‘The Jean Genie’ and  appeared in the promo video- ‘Time’ mentions recently deceased drummer  Murcia (Billy Dolls) and there is an –almost- name check for Sylvain Sylvain in ‘Drive in Saturday’.

 Despite all this cracks were already beginning to show in the Dolls retinue and were only compounded by divisions between the two self appointed leaders Johansen and Thunders. Matters were further exacerbated by Thunders and Nolan’s descent into heroin addiction whilst Johansen and Sylvain tried to keep things afloat. Poor bassist Arthur Kane was stuck in the middle and seeking solace in the bottle ended up so incapacitated he was sent to rehab several times to dry out although each time met with less success than the time before.

 By the time it came to recording their second album nine months after their debut the juggernaut was already running out of steam. Presciently titled Too Much Too Soon the album was not the unmitigated disaster it was decried as at the time. Still housing a few classic tracks – ‘Babylon’, ‘Chatterbox’ , ‘Puss ‘n’ Boots’ and ‘Human Being’ among them as well as a great cover of the Cadets novelty number ‘Stranded in the Jungle’- it was clear in the playing, shabby production and inclusion of four cover versions that this was a band not progressing but actually falling apart, even if it was beautifully so.


The record company was also obviously running scared as the debacle surrounding the cover art of the first album had raised such a fuss that the follow up had a relatively tame live shot of the band where most of their faces were obscured from view. It was only a short matter of time before things collapsed completely and by mid 1975 it was all effectively over for the Dolls.

 When punk peaked in 1977 the Dolls and their debut album started to receive the attention and respect they had deserved all along. Unfortunately their image was so stuck in the glam era that this worked against them in the stripped back deconstruction of punk.

 By this time bands such as Aerosmith and Kiss had taken the visual and musical credentials of the Dolls and turned them into something less threatening and more commercially viable. In the case of Kiss any threat of the visual appeal of the Dolls had been transformed into a cartoon with all of the sexual aspect of pushing at gender boundaries removed. They went onto mega stardom and bringing in millions whilst the Dolls languished in obscurity and debt.

 Following the Dolls, Thunders and Nolan formed the Heartbreakers and released the classic ‘L.A.M.F’ but internal drug problems beset them once again and another opportunity was missed. Thunders went onto live out his own personal rock and roll dream/nightmare, eventually succumbing to a mysterious death in 1991 with Nolan not far behind him, checking out a mere eight months later.

 Johansen made a couple of solid albums before re-inventing himself as Buster Poindexter and gaining commercial success in the eighties and later on some artistic rehabilitation with the Harry Smiths at the turn of the century.

 Sylvain and Kane fared less well and did little of any note until Morrissey reconvened the remaining Dolls for his meltdown show of 2004. Unfortunately for Kane this was his swansong and sadly he died only a matter of weeks later. The build up to this show is clearly documented in Greg Whiteley’s film ‘New York Doll’ which shows the former hell raiser as a shuffling middle aged man working in a Mormon facility centre clinging onto his memories of youth and the hope he might relive those times yet again. The fact he did is extremely touching and the film is sad, heart wrenching but still strangely inspiring.

 The main problem which always thwarted and blighted the Dolls however was summed up in the title of their castigated second album Too Much Too Soon as this is what they always promised and in that debut album it was also what they also delivered. However what they did deliver in that classic album clapped like thunder and hit like lightning. Perhaps once was more than enough!


Just An Observation Friday May 3rd


And on and on the list keeps growing! Yet more leading figures from the entertainment industry caught up in sexual scandals which may-or may not-be linked to the whole Savile debacle, which is the scandal which seems to keep on giving. This week has seen Stuart Hall admit charges of sexual abuse taking place over a considerable period of time whilst Coronation Street actor Bill Roache-the longest standing member of any soap opera in the world playing slow but steady Ken Barlow whose marriage to Dreary, her of the specs and the wrinkly neck, has seen some ups and downs of its own-has been arrested in connection with rape charges against an underage girl dating from 1967.

With both these latest figures  now in their eighties  it now means I will be eyeing any unassuming octogenarian with a suspicious eye in the coming days. It certainly brings new emphasis to that immortal line uttered by Harold Steptoe to his lecherous father Albert, in one of that era’s better sitcoms Steptoe and Son, ‘You dirty old man’. I am beginning to wonder whether they should just arrest the whole of the nineteen sixties and seventies or perhaps my whole childhood televisual experience.

 What with Rolf Harris, Max Clifford-I would like to see his obnoxious press team attempt to get him out of this one- and Michael Levell (yet another Coronation Street regular begging the question who next? Norris Cole?) among recent public figures arrested for sexual offences on under-agers it just confirms what many have presumed for years; that the entertainment industry is full of rampant egos who believe they can make up their own rules and normal laws don’t apply to them.

 Not that the whole of the industry can be tainted in this way and paedophilia exists in many other spheres apart from this. It would just appear from evidence already presented that some form of collusion and agreement seems to have existed amongst the participants who being in the public eye were rightly or wrongly considered figures to be looked for to moral guidance.

 Therefore whilst my parents may have worried about the effects David Bowie was having on my almost pubescent self-their reaction when I waltzed in with the first New York Dolls album cover clutched lovingly in my black nail varnish adorned hands eclipsed this obsession and had them wondering what could possibly be next and, fair to say, I never disappointed- but in hindsight he may have been the safer option. Attending an episode of ‘Jim’ll Fix it’ would probably have been fraught with more sleaze and unwanted sexual corruption than a Ziggy Stardust concert could ever have conjured up. Likewise Rolf Harris’s catch phrase ‘Can you see what it is yet?’, as he seemingly haphazardly applied daubs of paint to a large canvas now seems inextricably linked to something more sinister in my psyche. What is more disturbing is how overt all this was with the main perpetrators playing out their twisted fantasies- Gary Glitter’s child catcher movements during ‘Leader of the gang’ spring to mind here- very blatantly  before our eyes.   Perhaps the best advice that anyone could have given any young person visiting the BBC centre in the sixties and seventies would have been ‘Run!’ Followed by ‘Fast!’

 And as the country’s top rated show Coronation Street has to rewrite scripts and has lost two of its stalwart characters in as many months – if this continues pretty soon we will be left with a show consisting of Rita singing wartime favourites to Emily Bishop- the whole industry is tarnished and obviously needs looked at and with its archangel publicist, Clifford, at the centre of the maelstrom then at least there may be less places for those who seek to abuse their positions of fame, wealth and success to hide.

 News has emerged this morning concerning by elections in England and Wales showing that the Tories are rapidly losing their vice like grip whilst the Lib Dem’s are no longer a party with any credibility –securing a place within a coalition with party whose parties policies are anathema to most of their supporters has placed them in a place that is almost impossible to came back from- but showing the rise of the dubious UKIP party. This has actually worried me and whilst I usually stray away from politics it would appear that things may actually get worse rather than better. A lot of disillusionment has set in and unfortunately the UKIP policies focus on this and are playing on people’s ignorance and frustrations. Unfortunately their manifesto is very clear-if not wholly revealing- and in a world blighted by mistrust and lies this may go someway in securing them even more votes. This however is not a good thing.

 On a lighter note one of my favourite film makers Pedro Almodovar returns to our screens this weekend with a piece of over the top camp outrage called I’m So Excited And guess what? I so actually am! Moving away from the serious nature of his more recent works this is a return to the style of movie which first drew so much attention and gained him so many plaudits in the nineteen eighties when his star was very much in the ascendant. I will be seeing the film later today and a review will be posted not long after.

Elsewhere the arrival of May did not usher in any summertime weather and I still have to consider whether I will be warm enough every time I leave the house. At least I have managed to lose at one layer and have not made the foolhardy- and tempting fate- mistake of investing in a summer wardrobe. Over the last few years it has proved itself a waste of money and last year’s still hangs in my wardrobe largely unworn so the least I can hope for is it may actually get an airing this year at some point.




Homesick Aldo

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Imagine a lone drifter stowed away on a freight train travelling the route of Highway 61 absorbing the works of Jack Kerouac and Hunter. S. Thomson wrapped up in the blues. Eventually emerging with impeccable rock and roll insouciance-channelled via Johnny Thunders and John Cooper Clarke-combining the licks of Sonny Boy Williamson, Jimmy Reed and, Muddy Waters accompanied only by a harmonica and primal drumbeat-so stripped back that even the White Stripes appear grandiose-then you get some insight into the force of nature which creates the musicality and myth Homesick Aldo.

A new kind of star for a 21st century which has thus far wrapped itself up in technological turgidity where so much music has lost not only its integrity and raw emotion  but also its driving forces and beliefs.

Aldo, on the other hand, takes elements of the past and his own selected musical heritage, hurling them into a musical time machine, effortlessly streaming the zeitgeist of our current climate by introducing authenticity and rawness back to a medium which languishes in hype and X-Crement Factor cheesiness evolving into our first authentic millennial self titled bluesician,

A sound both ageless and timeless; seemingly from either a hundred years ago or a hundred years into the future but most importantly very much of its own moment proving – if proof were needed- that the blues are a style that never goes out of fashion.  Beyond being yet another artist merely adopting the pose of the trendy ‘unplugged’ ethos as, despite the basic instrumentation, his act crackles with an urgent, vibrant vitality fuelled by electricity.

His raw, innovative solo live show – a lone harmonica,  an errant kazoo, an occasional singular drum all topped off with wailing bluesy vocals are his only arsenal- is an antidote to the overly rehearsed, moribund dullness of mainstream live shows with artists merely going through the motions and he instead concentrates on capturing the audience’s attention; demanding their souls whilst stealing their hearts and devotion in the process.

A live act like no other on the circuit at the moment and everywhere he plays even the sceptical and non believers have inevitably found themselves drawn into this maelstrom of a musical hybrid emerging from this singular young man. The songs are freeform interpretations of blues classics mixed with original compositions all stirred along with familiar reference points- a New York Dolls steal here or a Stones or Dylan reference there-but with a fresh approach which renders them unique and affords them freshness.

Audiences are important to Aldo and this also sets him apart. Far from expecting them to sit in awe at his exceptional talents he actively encourages their participation. Thus the dancing, clapping and banging on a tambourine which have occurred at live shows I have witnessed are immediately hastily incorporated into his act ensuring that it goes off into yet another dimension staving off any predictability or complacency from either himself or his loyal converts.

Currently in the studio recording an independent two track single to be released in the spring and whilst the A side will be a garage rock stormer the B-Side will be more of a showcase of his live stage act. Wary of drawing other musicians into the mix he has thus far shied away from this but recognises it is something he may have to consider if he is to extend his musical palette and reach a bigger audience.

For the moment though he is perfectly happy to stand a lone wolf and from the reactions he is eliciting everywhere he plays he is right to stick to his guns playing the music he loves so fervently. With live gigs lined up for early spring – mainly in his native Scotland but also including an appearance at the London’s legendary 100 Club- this may be the last chance to see him in such venues and with such low key billing as his star is on the ascendant. A showcase evening in Edinburgh at a larger venue is being arranged for the spring featuring several upcoming Scottish bands but centring on him. Homesick Aldo 2013 could be yours for the taking!

Upcoming Gigs include Nice N Sleazy Glasgow on March 23rd and London 100 Club on the 13th April.

A single is being recorded and should be available later in the Spring. Until then check out links below for some idea of what to expect.

Portrait by Gavin Evans -thanks to Gavin- who has also worked with David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Joe Strummer and a host of others. His website with full details of his rock and film star  portraits and their availability can be found here.

Evans also has a film ‘The Audition’ showing at Summerhall every day from 10am-6pm until May 18th and his work can also be found at The Institute 14 Roseneath Street Edinburgh his studio/gallery/ cafe. Details can be found here.