With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“I feel so extraordinary, something’s got a hold on me” July 31, 2020


Picture by Pete Smith (see note below)

Denise Johnson sadly passed away earlier this week at way too young an age. In my opinion she was one of the finest vocalists Britain has ever produced. Many of you might not know who she was as often she was seen as just a backing singer for the likes of A Certain Ratio and Primal Scream. She was an essential part of the Manchester music scene and a big fan of the blue side of the city (that would be Manchester City for those of you unfamiliar with football). I was a fan of Denise from her time with Primal Scream and I saw her on stage with them a couple of times. She was preparing to launch her first solo album, ‘Where Does It Go’ on 25th September and I know that she was very excited about it. Click here to pre-order it. I had a few chats with her on Twitter about getting hold of an early copy for review. She was also working on an email interview of a set of questions that I sent her about a month ago. I never met her in person, but she had an incredibly positive presence on social media. She was by far one of my favourite people on Twitter. The world has lost not just a very talented singer, but also a first class human being.

Picture by Pete Smith (see note below)

A Certain Ratio’s Martin Moscrop said this of her “It wasn’t only artists; it was everyone who liked Denise. The outpouring of love for her when her death was announced yesterday just goes to show how well she was respected by everyone, not only as an amazing singer but as a person. She was the perfect all-rounder because she was so talented, but along with that talent she was such a caring person. At the end of every gig we always had to wait for her because she had to go and personally thank everyone involved, the bar staff, the bouncers, the people cleaning up, the promoter, the ticket person and the technicians. That’s a measure of the type of person she was.” Click here to read the rest of his comments on the NME site.

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up for her funeral, click here to access it and contribute if you can

Denise Johnson – Legend! R.I.P.

I confess that I “borrowed” the pictures from the NME site. The photographer was Pete Smith. Pete I run this blog out of a passion for music, so while I can’t pay you I would be happy to promote you via a link to your site. Alternatively I can remove the pictures if you want me to.

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“But life goes on, you know, you know, it ain’t easy” – RIP Steve Priest June 4, 2020

Filed under: Obituary — justwilliam1959 @ 10:53 pm
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It was announced earlier today that one of the founder members of the Sweet, Steve Priest, had died aged just 72. That means only Andy Scott remains from the original classic line up. For many people around my age, the Sweet were part of our teenage years. There were times when I tried not to like them, especially when as a Bowie fan I felt that “Blockbuster” ripped off the guitar riff from Bowie’s “Jean Genie” and also kept it from number one in the UK charts. But to be fair the riff is most likely taken from the Yardbirds’ “I’m A Man” which is a cover of the Bo Diddley original from the 1950s, which in turn borrowed heavily from Howlin’ Wolf’s 1954 release “Hoochie Coochie Man”. Anyway, once I grew past my tribal loyalty to Bowie and perceived distaste for the Sweet I learned that in spite of their earlier pop successes the Sweet were real hard rockers at heart. Their album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’ and many of their b-sides are a testament to this. The band’s first self-written hit was “Fox On The Run” in 1975.

While I don’t really like their out and out pop stuff that much it is hard to deny that the Nicky Chin and Mike Chapman are supreme earworm pop classics. However, the rest of Europe really adopted the Sweet as a full-on rock band, especially Germany. I love their later singles and also the ‘Desolation Boulevard’ album, which still sounds good today. I saw them live in the late 70s and they were pretty damned good. RIP Steve Priest, you will be sadly missed by pop, glam, rock fans around the world. Thank you for the music that you left us!

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“They told me it’s all over now, but my life’s just begun” January 12, 2020


Sometimes a piece of news just passes you by, doesn’t it? I was reading Record Collector magazine this week and discovered an obituary for Iain Sutherland of the Sutherland Brothers’ fame. So I am very sorry that this write up comes so long after that sad event. Many will remember this Scottish band, that Iain formed with his brother Gavin in 1968 then called New Generation, for their 1976 hit “Arms Of Mary”. They joined forces with Quiver in the early 70s and had moderate success in the USA, single “(I Don’t Want to Love You But) You Got Me Anyway” reached the Billboard Top 50, but failed to chart in their native UK. Gavin Sutherland also wrote another great song for the group, which sadly failed to chart, that song was “Sailing”, which was covered by Rod Stewart and went on to become one of his biggest hits. Incidentally, for many reasons, Rod Stewart’s cover of “Sailing” was my Dad’s funeral song back in 2001. But for me, my favourite song by the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver was 1973 single “Dream Kid (July 32nd)” which was also the title track of their album that same year. In fact “Dream Kid (July 32nd)” is one of my favourite songs of all time, I really can’t pinpoint exactly why, but I love it and it makes me feel happy whenever I hear it. It was played a lot on UK radio in 1973 and I was gutted that it never charted. I still have a vinyl copy of the album. Iain died in November 2019 aged just 71, which really isn’t that old these days. RIP Iain Sutherland.

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“For you things, seem to turn out right I wish they’d only happen to me instead” December 6, 2018


I guess it must be my age in that so many people who were a part of my younger years have left us. I am sure many of you are now aware that northern punk stalwart Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks passed away at just 63 after a suspected heart attack. The Buzzcocks were a classic British band in so many ways. They did not ape the US vocalisation of some, they stuck to their guns, remembered their roots and produced some amazing music along the way. Contrary to popular belief the band were probably not named after a slang term for a vibrator. But supposedly about the buzz or the happening with cock being English north-western slang for mate, pal or friend. The band formed in Bolton in 1976 in a coming together of Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto. Both became early fans of the Sex Pistols, travelling down to London to see them play in February 1976. After that Devoto and Shelley were the instigators of the Pistols now infamous and iconic show at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976. The pair was unable to get a band together to get on the bill for that gig, but with the addition of Steve Diggle and John Maher the Buzzcocks opened the second Sex Pistols Manchester show in July 1976. By the end of that year they had recorded and released their ‘Spiral Scratch’ EP. The following year they signed for the United Artists label and released the punk classic “Orgasm Addict” a song that was very risqué for the time.

The Buzzcocks embraced punks DIY attitude and principles even though they signed to a major label. the band disbanded in 1981 but got back together later that decade. Shelley and Diggle were the constant members overseeing a number of personnel changes. Over the years the Buzzcocks released nine studio albums and a string of compilations. For me they were best remembered as an incredible singles band. How can anyone not love “What Do I Get” and their biggest hit (a UK number 12 in 1978) “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)”. I was lucky enough to see them a couple of times in London in 1978 and then once again in York on the Buzzcocks 40 tour just a few years ago. My thoughts are with Pete Shelley’s family, friends and fans, he will be very sadly missed. RIP Pete Shelley.

 

 

“I use the N.M.E. I use anarchy” – NME RIP March 11, 2018


It is time to pay a sad, but perhaps inevitable, farewell to a music magazine that has been a part of my life since I first became interested in music; the NME. I bought my first copy sometime in 1970 and I began buying it regularly in around 1972. I really only missed two or three copies per year and in the 1970s I avidly read it from cover to cover. I became a subscriber in 2010 and continued as one until shortly after it became a free publication in 2015. Is there room for a weekly print music magazine any more? probably not. Could the NME have become a monthly publication? I doubt it, the competition from Q, Mojo, Uncut, Vive Le Rock and others is pretty fierce.

The NME, or the New Musical Express as it was then known,  published the first ever UK singles chart in its first issue in November 1952. If you’re interested Al Martino was number one with “Here In My Heart”. I lived through some of the greatest British music journalism that there has ever been during its heyday; Charles Shaar Murray, Danny Baker, Nick Kent, Julie Burchill, Paul Morley, Andrew Collins and Tony Parsons to name but a few. Who can forget Danny Baker’s fabulous essays on Michael Jackson and his take on American male soul groups which if memory serves me well was called something like ‘In Praise Of Crimpeline Flares’. In the 60s the NME Poll winners shows included the likes of the Beatles and the Stones playing live. They were among the first to talk about and champion punk in the late 70s. This was a time when the paper became openly political and often published well written and venomous anti Thatcher articles, which I loved.

It came close to folding in the 1980s as it seemed to struggle to find its place in that musical era. But ultimately it survived and pulled through.By the 1990s the paper was very much a supporter of what came to us under the frankly ridiculous banner of BritPop. My favourite cover of this period recorded where the NME brought Brett Anderson and Suede and the Dame himself, David Bowie together. They also led the somewhat ridiculous battle of the bands between Oasis and Blur in 1995. Then of course there were the sometimes infamous Brat Awards as a left field alternative to the Brits. Even as recently as this week it has continued to publish some excellent pieces; Leonie Cooper’s column in support of International Women’s Day was bloody good. and take a look at the NME’s election coverage in 2017. I have seen many posts on-line recently since the announcement of the death of the NME many of them stating somewhat callously that the NME was no longer relevant and hadn’t been for many years. I disagree with this. NME was not the bands and not the music but it brought those bands and their music to our attention when everything wasn’t instantly available on-line. It gave a voice to protest when the ‘adult’ right wing press were not interested. I would argue that the need for that kind of protest and that kind of music reporting is still relevant, but it really doesn’t exist. There are many wonderful things about the age of the internet but compared to the days of paper publication it is often bland, corporate, washed out and washed up. We take our media in so many ways now and in the past the NME and some of its competitors were our vehicle for ‘sticking it to the man’. Now ‘the man’ is the industry, we lost the battle, ‘the man’ has largely taken over and we are happily drip fed Saturday night garbage like the X Factor and the Voice because they sell soulless, lifeless dross to the masses.

There are still bands out there that mean something and I am sure that all of you will be able to name at least one. In my opinion that includes the Tuts, Colour Me Wednesday and Avalanche Party. But ultimately the world has changed and that new world deems that the likes of the NME is no longer required. I disagree and I believe that there is a place for a publication that is passionate about new music, trends, fashion and politics. However it will almost certainly need to live on-line. Can nme.com deliver in those areas? Given the need for corporate advertising to survive, possibly not, so maybe now is time for a new underground movement. Who wants to join me at the vanguard of that? Or shall we just roll over and bow to ‘the man’? RIP NME.

 

The final NME Cover.

 

“But what the heck, they’re not too bad, they talk to God” January 24, 2018


I am truly saddened by the death of Mark E Smith of the Fall. He was one of the alternative music scenes greatest talents. He passed away at home and according to his manager more details will follow in the next few days. He was hospitalised with significant respiratory issues on the Fall’s US tour last year and back in the UK he completed some dates in a wheelchair. At this stage there is no way of knowing whether any of this was connected with his demise. Mark formed the Fall after seeing the now infamous Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1976, they became a fixture in British music following the release of their debut EP ‘The Bingo-Masters Break Out’ in 1978. The band released 32 studio albums from ‘Live At The Witch Trials’ in 1979 to last year’s ‘New Facts Emerge’. They issued a similar number of live albums and more than 40 compilations. Smith was the only constant member of the Fall, around 60 different people played in the band over the years. He was an influence on many, many artists including Brett Anderson of Suede, Tim Burgess of the Charlatans and Billy Bragg. John Peel was a great champion and fan of the Fall, he once said “They are always different, they are always the same”, that strikes me as a very fitting epitaph. RIP Mark E Smith, you will be sadly missed. My thoughts go to Mark’s family, friends and fans.

 

“But you always really knew, I just wanna be with you” January 15, 2018

Filed under: Obituary — justwilliam1959 @ 11:57 pm
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I am sure by now that you have learned the sad news of Dolores O’Riordan’s death at just 46 years old. She was born in Ballybricken, County Limerick in Ireland and in 1990 she auditioned as a singer for a band call the Cranberry Saw Us who as you probably guessed went on to change their name to the Cranberries. From 1993 to 2002 the band released six albums including a greatest hits package in 2002. The band took a break in 2003 and then got back together with a tour in 2009. The band’s second and third albums ‘No Need To Argue’ (1994) and ‘To The Faithful Departed’ (1996) went top 5 in almost every country they were released in. My favourite Cranberries song is “Linger” and that broke the band in the USA hitting number 8 in 1993. Meanwhille in 1994 another magnificent single, “Zombie” went to number one in Australia, France and Germany.

I was lucky enough to see the Cranberries play live on at least four occasions. In London in 1993 and again in 1994 and then a couple of times at festivals after that. They were an incredible band and Dolores was an amazing singer and front woman. She will be missed by many. My thoughts go to her family, friends and fans across the world. RIP Dolores O’Riordan.

 

“Life is much too beautiful to live it all alone” November 23, 2017

Filed under: Obituary — justwilliam1959 @ 12:12 am
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I was saddened to hear of the death of David Cassidy aged just 67. He was perhaps the true definition of a teen idol in his heyday during the early 70s. Obviously back then us boys would never be a fan. But all the girls at my school were either fans of David Cassidy or Donny Osmond, with a few more rebellious girls opting for David Essex. Back in the days when the pop charts really meant something these three were top 20 regulars in the UK.

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Cassidy found fame in the American TV series the Partridge Family where he played Keith Partridge. It was a musical show and his first success came with the recordings he did under the Partridge Family name. His mother in the show whose character was called Shirley Partridge was in fact his stepmother Shirley Jones. Before the Partridge Family David had made the odd appearance in shows that included; Bonanza, Marcus Welby MD and Ironside.

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David Cassidy had two number one singles in the UK, “How Can I Be Sure” in 1972 and “Daydreaming/ The Puppy Song” in 1973. On top of that he had a further thirteen UK top 20 hits if you ad in the Partridge family singles. His album ‘Dreams Are Nothin’ More Than Wishes’ made it to the top of the UK album charts in 1973. Whether or not you were a big Cassidy fan there is no denying that he left a significant mark on pop history. David Cassidy RIP.

 

“You sigh, the song begins, you speak and I hear violins” November 21, 2017


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Today I heard of the death of American jazz, pop, gospel (and many other genres) singer  and actress Della Reese. She was 86 years old and I have been a fan for many years. The reason I became a Della Reese fan is down to my sadly departed father who as it turns out was born just three months after Della. Anyway during his years in the Royal Navy, a submariner no less, my Dad collected quite a few records mostly Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee and Della Reese. I no longer have any of the original vinyl that he had but in recent years I have managed to get hold of a few rather excellent Della Reese vinyl albums.

della-reese

At 13 she became a backing singer for legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and her first tour was with Nat King Cole. She worked with many jazz legends including Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington. She made a staggering 17 appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, her first was in 1957. She had her own American TV show ‘Della’ which aired from 1969 to 1970. As an actress she starred in US TV series ‘Touched By An Angel’, she also made an appearance in the Eddie Murphy film ‘Harlem Nights’. In the 1980s she became an ordained minister. She will, I am sure be very sadly missed. My thoughts are with Della’s family, friends and fans. Della Reese RIP.

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“And the guitar man got famous” November 20, 2017

Filed under: Obituary — justwilliam1959 @ 11:40 pm
Tags: , ,

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I am sure that by now you are all aware of the death of one of the founding members of AC DC, Malcolm Young. After he retired from the band in 2014 at the onset of dementia I guess it was inevitable that he may not stayed with us for too much longer. But at 64, well that is a young death in the first world these days.

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There have been many, many tributes on-line and in print to Malcolm over the past 48 hours. He was the heart of the band to many and I tend to agree with that. His younger brother Angus clearly took a more prominent position but without Malcolm I doubt that AC DC would have scaled the heights that they did. Were AC DC a punk band? No not in the sense of them being a part of the punk ‘movement’ but they sure as hell had punk swagger and attitude.

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My thoughts are with Malcolm’s family, friends and legions of fans across the globe. Malcolm Young RIP you rocked our world and we salute you!

 

 
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