To coincide with the publication of my latest book, I talk to Australian YouTube legend and all-round music superfan, Plastic EP. As well as discussing my book ‘Slade in the 1970s‘, we also talk about my previous two books for Sonicbond’s ‘Decades’ series – on Suzi Quatro and The Sweet and my life-long love of all things glam.
Plastic EP reminds me that all three artists were absolutely huge in Australia. While America didn’t seem to get the very British phenomenon that was glam rock, Australia certainly did and Sweet, Slade and Suzi were all major sellers in the record charts over there, as well as packing out huge arenas on their live tours.
You can catch the full interview here.
Slade in the 1970s is published by Sonicbond Publishing and is available now from Amazon, from the publisher’s online shop at Burning Shed and from other major retailers.
This week sees the publication of my third book for Sonicbond’s Decades series: ‘Slade In The 1970s’. It follows on from my books on The Sweet in 2021 and Suzi Quatro last year – a glam trilogy if you will!
Here is a round-up of reviews for my previous book on Suzi Quatro. All three books are available on Amazon and other major retailers as well as the publisher’s own online shop at Burning Shed.
“Darren Johnson focuses the same obsessive-compulsive attention to detail that he applied to Sweet in his earlier contribution” – Andrew Darlington, RnR magazine
“An interesting book which should appeal to a wide audience” – John Tucker, Record Collector magazine
“Fascinating read for Suzi Q fans, aging glam rockers and anybody who enjoys a good, informative rock biography.” Jason Ritchie, Get Ready To Rock
“One hell of a gig.” – Tim Keppie, Record Collector magazine
“Puckrik leads a performance of riotous energy and no mean volume.” – Chris Roberts, Classic Rock magazine
“If you’re my generation, this is a blast.” – Neil McCormick, chief music critic – The Telegraph
“Great gig. Great band. Brilliant night.” – Marc Riley, BBC Radio 6 Music presenter
“The show is a show you simply cannot miss. Go and see it and experience the energy!” – Danny Stoakes, Stoakes Media Music Reviews
Following glowing reviews, sold-out venues and many, many fun nights, the all-star line-up celebrating Iggy Pop’s classic Lust For Life album have announced a second UK tour. Legendary Blondie drummer, Clem Burke, will once again be joined by former Sex Pistol and punk pioneer, Glen Matlock on bass; broadcaster and Pet Shop Boys dancer, Katie Puckrik on vocals; Iggy Pop and David Bowie collaborator, Kevin Armstrong on guitar; Luis Correia, who’s toured internationally with Earl Slick on second guitar; together with classical pianist, composer, and touring member of Heaven 17, Florence Sabeva on keyboards.
The band will again perform the Lust For Life album in full, as well as revisiting songs from across the individual band members’ careers with legendary artists including Blondie, David Bowie and the Sex Pistols. Some of them will be songs the band performed on the last tour but there will be a few surprises thrown in as well.
Three of the band members, Glen Matlock, Clem Burke and Kevin Armstrong, have toured with Iggy Pop and each has made an album with him: Glen Matlock (Soldier) in 1980, Clem Burke (Zombie Birdhouse) in 1982 and Kevin Armstrong (Blah Blah Blah) in 1986.
Fronting the band, the irrepressible Katie Puckrik proved a rock ‘n’ roll revelation to many on the last tour. As Clem Burke said: “Katie is fantastic and she’s joined the ranks of the other brilliant women I’ve been fortunate to play with: Debbie, Annie, Nancy, Wanda, The Go Go’s and Joan!”
Katie Puckrik: “Touring Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life in 2023 felt like a homecoming. My broadcast career had long steered me away from my original calling as a performer, from dancing onstage with The Fall and Michael Clark Company, touring the world with Pet Shop Boys, and singing in Sparks’ opera The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, both on the original cast recording and in performance. So to embody the funny/dirty/tart/smart songs of the magnificent Iggy Pop was an electrifying rebirth. Every single gig was a communion with a frothing room of Pop-aholics, and it’s thanks to the crowds who danced and hollered along to Lust For Life, The Passenger, and the rest of Iggy’s anthems, that we get to do it all over again. Once again I’ll be elevated by some of Iggy, Bowie and Blondie’s most beloved players, including Clem Burke, Glen Matlock and Kevin Armstrong, and I’m warning you—this band is a joy machine!”
Glen Matlock: “To be on stage with these fellow like-minded guys and gals and celebrate our collective musical ancestries is always a pleasure, so come on down and let’s all hit the roof together.”
Clem Burke:“I’m really looking forward to once again playing with this great group of friends and musicians. All aboard for more Funtime!”
I was encouraged by the reaction to my Sweet book and began work on one about Suzi Quatro, another big ‘70s icon that I’ve always been a huge fan of. However, the first band I truly fell in love with was Slade said author Darren Johnson.
Originally from the North West, Darren moved to London in 1990 where he spent over twenty years working full time in politics…
My professional background was in politics and campaigning so I’d written a lot about current affairs and had various articles published in the national press – from tackling climate change to building more council housing.
After stepping back from politics Darren moved out of the capital and in 2016 based himself in Hastings, East Sussex.
When I no longer had an endless cycle of meetings to attend, one of the things I was determined to do was go to more live gigs…
Marking the publication of my third book for Sonicbond’s Decades series, Slade In The 1970s, I’ll be at the legendary Trumpet pub in Bilston on 17th June, a traditional stomping ground for the members of Slade in the early days and still a much-loved and highly-respected jazz venue.
Slade In The 1970s previewed this month in Wired Up glam fanzine:
As well as a Q&A and book signing I’m thrilled to announce there will also be a live acoustic set from Martin Brooks and Nigel Hart of the Pouk Hill Prophetz as part of the launch that afternoon (1pm-3pm) as well as a later set that evening (8pm-11pm).
Coming together through their shared love of Slade, Pouk Hill Prophetz have been together almost a decade now, bringing their own unique take on the music of Slade and other glam-era icons.
Martin Brooks, guitarist with Pouk Hill Prophetz: “Darren Johnson has been a friend of the band for many years and we are delighted to support his book launch. It is a great honour for PHP to play a gig at The Trumpet, which is such an important music venue in the Midlands and has been associated with Slade since their glory days in the 70s. It will be a day and a night to remember!”
About the author: A former politician, Darren Johnson spent many years writing about current affairs but after stepping away from politics he was able to devote time to his first love: music. His first book, The Sweet In The 1970s, was published by Sonicbond in 2021, followed by Suzi Quatro In The 1970s in 2022. Now he turns his attention to the first band he truly fell in love with: Slade. A keen follower of both rock and folk, he maintains a popular music blog Darren’s Music Blog and has reviewed albums and gigs for a variety of publications. He lives in Hastings, East Sussex
Given the Gillan-fronted Deep Purple have largely disowned the output of the Mark III (and IV) Deep Purple, Glenn Hughes has been doing a sterling job keeping the flame alive for these classic Purple songs in recent years. And this Autumn he sets out on a new UK tour celebrating fifty years of the magnificent Burn album.
Hughes and his band will perform the legendary album in full as well as performing other Deep Purple songs from the Mark III and Mark IV eras. In addition to Hughes on bass/vocals, the band features Soren Andersen (guitar), Ash Sheehan (drums) and Bob Fridzema (keyboards).
Special guests for all UK shows are Canadian rock and roll band, The Damn Truth.
Glenn Hughes:“It was 50 years ago, in the summer of 1973, that the BURN album by Deep Purple was written at Clearwell Castle in the Forest of Dean Gloucestershire,” reminisces Glenn. “It was recorded in October in Montreux, Switzerland. We all became one in this centuries old castle in the UK countryside, it felt like Deep were a new band, with David (Coverdale) and I as new members, we couldn’t wait to start working on new songs. The atmosphere was electric, in such amazing surroundings.”
“All the songs on BURN were written in the crypt/dungeon, underneath the great hall. We worked on a new song every day, and we were in the flow. Musically we would play, and work out ideas, and David and I would come up with vocal melodies that would later have lyrics. I remember it like it was yesterday.”
Featuring classics like ‘Might Just Take Your Life’, Mistreated and the magnificent title track, Burn was Deep Purple’s eighth studio album and the first to feature Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale, who replaced Roger Glover and Ian Gillan respectively.
Hughes adds, “The title track was the last song to be written. We came back from the pub, and went down into the crypt, and magic happened.”
“It’s time to celebrate BURN, and I’m really looking forward to seeing you.”
Eve Simpson is a singer-songwriter, storyteller, and collaborative community artist from South Shields and now based in Edinburgh. Written between the two places, her four-track EP All Her Strange was inspired by the playfulness of Woodstock-era Joni Mitchell and that captivating combination of honesty and vulnerability from great songwriters like Laura Marling and Carole King.
Eve Simpson:“It is a piece of work about trying to understand myself at 21, processing grief, health, heartbreak, joy and loss, and becoming a person that had two places that felt like home now.”
Combining wit, feistiness and vulnerability, one of the stand-out tracks on the EP is ‘His Euphoria’, a coming-of-age commentary on misogyny where Eve playfully narrates the trials and tribulations of being a young woman dating, dancing, and debating her way through her early 20s.
Eve told Darren’s Music Blog: “His Euphoria is a complete mick-take of the very male-dominated spaces I found myself within the music industry and university in my early-20s. Written during the first lockdown, when I completely removed myself from those spaces, it was a sarcastic reflection of how much I had to play myself down to exist within those spaces. It is a really fun song, about some very awkward and damaging environments.“
“The EP more broadly, continues along this lens of reflection, with each track honouring some very important coming-of-age moments: heartbreak, grief, and empowerment. All Her Strange as a whole is an acknowledgment of experiencing self-love, and acceptance for the first time. Of acknowledging my shortcomings, and areas of growth, whilst recognizing those integral parts of myself that I can’t change.”
The EP was produced with support from Youth Music’s NextGen Fund. A short tour in support of the EP commences on 17th April in Edinburgh.
Like a number of bands riven by personnel disputes, artistic differences or simply shafted by the music industry, early 1980s glam metal pioneers, Wrathchild, were one of those outfits that had long ago divided into rival factions, each touring with their own version of the band and a series of long-running disputes about use of the name.
However, in a statement this week on his Facebook page, original lead singer and over-the-top mascaraed frontman, Rocky Shades, posted a statement to say his own version of the band had finally won the right to use the Wrathchild name:
“Rocky Shades Wrathchild will now be officially known as “Wrathchild” since the ownership of the much disputed and controversial trademark and legacy has been returned to its co creator and motormouth frontman Rocky Shades.“
“The new Wrathchild is the five-piece band that should have been since day one and is considerably heavier than its older incarnation. The original members have either retired or turned their back on the genre that made them.“
The band were originally formed in Evesham, Worcestershire, in 1980, with the debut album Stakk Attakk coming out in 1984.
The current line-up of the band is now original vocalist, Rocky Shades, accompanied by Gaz Wilde (drums), Jonny Suicide (bass), Oz Paul (guitar) and Bret Patrucci (guitar).
In the band statement, Rocky Shades adds: “Wrathchild are currently in talks with a major American management company and a few interested record labels but are set to release their own single imminently called ‘Still Here In The Freak Show. This will be uploaded to a brand new pending website and a video will follow later. The B-side of said single is a reworked rerecorded version of fan favourite ‘Trash Queen’.“
The band are currently rehearsing for appearances at:
Hard Rock Hell – Great Yarmouth – Saturday 11th March 2023
The Billsley Rock Club – Birmingham – Saturday 8th April 2023
Legendary Sex Pistols bass-man, Glen Matlock, has this week released a second single as another taster from his long-awaited new solo album, Consequences Coming, which will be released in April.
Glen Matlock: “Magic Carpet Ride, with its fingers crossed Instant Karma-esque groove, is part of a quartet of songs from my forthcoming album, Consequences Coming. It attempts to deal with the road to nowhere journey we are being whisked on, to who knows where, who knows how and who the blinking flip knows why and is a sincere pleading that it is not the cul de sac that it promises to be, with the only escape route being the garden gate installed for a laugh by the flat earth society.”
He adds: “It also has a great slide guitar by Earl Slick.”
The original bassist and songwriter of the Sex Pistols, Matlock is responsible for co-penning some of history’s most iconic songs, “Anarchy In The UK,” “God Save The Queen” and “Pretty Vacant”. After his time with The Sex Pistols, Matlock went on to form several well-regarded bands including Rich Kids (with Midge Ure). He has collaborated with such artists as Iggy Pop, and Primal Scream, and is also a highly in-demand player, playing live with the likes of the legendary reformed Faces.
Matlock’s new deal with the Cooking Vinyl label will additionally see re-releases of two of his previous solo albums: 2010’s Born Running, and 2018’s critically-acclaimed Good To Go.
Matlock makes no apologies for the politically-charged flavour of this latest album:
“The album was written and recorded in Britain over the last 18 months or so with a posse of seasoned but on point performers. All done during the debacle that is Brexit and the rise and fall of the turgid Trump episode in the US. These songs reflect my take on the whole sorry mess that has ensued.”
“Now the wheels of the music business can sometimes move at a lugubrious, glacial pace, and sometimes the moment might be lost but seeing no break in the clouds or clear light at the end of the tunnel, surely the only demand on people’s lips should be that there are ‘Consequences Coming’ for the fat headed oafs who have foisted their asinine warped sensibilities on us.”
“The tunes are pretty catchy too…”
It’s a busy month for Glen Matlock who, in addition to his solo work, is also currently touring the UK and Ireland in a celebration of Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life album. Stepping up at the eleventh hour to replace original Lust For Life bassist, Tony Fox Sales, who was unable to tour, Matlock joins legendary Blondie drummer, Clem Burke; broadcaster and Pet Shop Boys dancer, Katie Puckrik on vocals; Iggy Pop and David Bowie collaborator, Kevin Armstrong on guitar; Luis Correia, who’s toured internationally with Earl Slick on second guitar together with classical pianist, composer, and touring member of Heaven 17, Florence Sabeva on keyboards.
On the eve of the Lust For Life tour, Matlock commented:
“It will be a bit of a challenge stepping into the top player and gentleman Tony Sales’ shoes at the last minute but challenges put hairs on your chest and are not to be shirked. To be on stage with these fellow like-minded guys and gals and celebrate our collective musical ancestries should be a pleasure, so come on down and let’s all hit the roof together.”
Annie Dressner, Lucy Grubb, Dan Wilde and Luke James Williams set out this month on a six-date tour to perform as part of their songwriters’ circle. Bound by a shared love of classic songwriting, these four acclaimed singer-songwriters present an evening of song, performed both individually and in collaboration.
Between them they have amassed appearances at some of the UK’s biggest festivals, including Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk, Green Man and Black Deer, garnered rave reviews from the likes of Folk Radio, Maverick and Paste Magazine and received airplay on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6 Music.
Annie Dressner tells Darren’s Music Blog:“I am very excited for this tour, going on the road with three of my favorite songwriters. The first half is going to be a songwriters’ circle situation, where we take turns singing our stuff solo — and the second half is going to be us playing each others’ songs, but as a band. I have learned bass, a (literal) drum and am playing keys for the first time in many years on stage. It’s not to be missed!”
Dan Wilde adds:“As solo singer-songwriters we’re all used to heading out on tour and being on stage alone and that this tour gives us a chance to feel like a band.”
18th March 2023 – Trowbridge – The Pump 19th March 2023 – Stroud – The Prince Albert 20th March 2023 – Cambridge – Junction 2 21st March 2023 – Maidenhead – Norden Farm Arts Centre 22nd March 2023 – Manchester – Gullivers 23rd March 2023 – Birmingham – Kitchen Garden Cafe