Sunday, December 10, 2017

Guitarist and Scientist Martin Weaver

I recently moved to Portugal and have become friends with an amazing and cool guy named Martin Weaver. Martin is best known for his band Wicked Lady but he also has a PhD and is a scientist as well. 

Wicked Lady were a wild and crazy UK band that existed in one form or another from about 1968 to 1972.  While there are no documented live fotos or recordings of the band (yet to be unearthed!), the band did make some recordings in their basement rehearsal. According to Martin, nearly all the photos claiming to be Wicked Lady on the internet are not the band. All the pictures you see of him from that time period were actually when we was playing with Dark. The band’s name is not from the movie but comes from a pub drink that was sold at this time in the UK.
         Today, only Martin Weaver, the guitar player and singer is alive to tell the stories and what some stories there are to tell. In the next paragraph’s we will start to tell some of these for you.

Wicked Lady - Potted History.

Martin Weaver Guitar
'Mad' Dick Smith Drums
Bob 'Motorist' Jeffries Bass.
Del 'German Head' Morley Bass (1972)                             Formed in 1968 - Split 1972

Wicked Lady was a hard rock, has been called a proto metal, band based in Northamptonshire. We prided ourselves on being loud, hard and not giving a shit.

We were a jam band at heart, our greatest enjoyment was jamming around set song structures. Jams would continue until a natural end became obvious. The tracks on the two record releases The Axeman Commeth and Psychotic overkill are the basic songs, recorded in order to settle arguments about how the songs went, not intended for release, we were against recording, it always sounded lame and soulless compared to a bands live sound. The albums were first released on Kissing Spell CD in 1992 and later Guerssen from Spain released CD and Vinyl. A bootleg vinyl originating from Sweden called Blow your mind featuring a naked biker girl on the cover is a compilation and highly sought after by collectors.

We first rehearsed in Daventry town centre, getting a following of bikers who followed us to gigs and at several places took control of the door. One pub in Northamptonshire lost it's music license following a mini riot in the street outside the venue, the Police were called by neighbours because of the noise of the band and fighting ensued Police and neighbours v Bikers, needless to say we didn't get paid! We did play some well known places such as the Roundhouse and Marquee Club but we found that the more high profile the venue the less we got paid. I don't remember getting paid at all in London, then as now unknown bands were expected to play for free 'for the good of your career'- at least we didn't pay to play as some bands do today.

The trouble for us was that the further we had to travel the more time we had to drink in the van on the way. Not good for a good stage performance especially when mixed with other chemicals! Sometimes we were great sometimes not so great. Mostly we played on the Pub circuit, which was our bread and butter. Performances would usually end with the drums being kicked over and guitars left on stage feeding back till someone killed the power, Who style. I remember playing at a large Pub in Northampton, The Romany, I played just one chord and the room starting to clear, everyone escaping the noise. We played our set to a few hardy souls and after playing we went to the Lounge for a drink. The room was packed and as we walked in a worried man said 'I hope you're not going to play in here now are you?' I don't think the midlands audience was ready for free form heavy rock! Most bands were either cover bands or Blues bands then and not many people got what we were doing. Our favourite place to stop after gigs was the Blue Boar on the M1 motorway where you would rub shoulders and swap stories with other bands, famous and unknown alike enjoying a full English at some ungodly hour of the morning. A lot of useful contacts were made there in the late 60's and 70's.

Many band's sole aim was to get a recording contract and we did have an A&R man come to see us play, we weren't really interested and it ended badly for him when he insulted my girlfriend. No contract for us! It was just a chance conversation with Kissing Spell in '92 in which I was asked if I had been in any other bands and I sent them the tapes of Wicked Lady, I didn't think they would be interested in this forgotten band but they were and now 40+ years on we have a record release and fans worldwide.

I am the last man standing from the band. I did see Mad Dick at an Iron Maiden gig 30 years ago but he was so far out of it then he didn't know who I was.

Here are the band's I played in, in order starting in 1966.

Blue Diamonds (Skiffle band) 1966
Electric Budgie (Blues) 1967-1968
Wicked Lady 1968-1972
Dark 1972-1975/1996-2017
Radar (Heavy Rock) 1978-1980
Tartan Grass (Rock covers) 1980-1983
Amber Valley (Covers) 1981-1985
Over the Hill (Blues Band) 1985-1990
Kakvoto (Metal) 2012-2014
BGB Rock/Metal 2016

What a real Wicked Lady live gig was like?

According to Martin, you never really knew what you were going to get as the band was usually pretty ripped and just cranked up the amps as loud as they could and play a few riffs from a song and then just jammed. He remembers a gig where they jammed out a song for 90mins! 

The band played with loads of bands including the Pink Fairies (See list below). They played famous places like the Marquee, but rarely did they ever get invited back to play again due to either being brutally loud or just too wild and crazy.

Blodwin Pig / St Albans
Stackridge / Birmingham
Rare Earth / Reading
Pink Faries / Wellingborough
Writing on the Wall / Coventry
Orphan / Northampton
Palladin / Watford

While Wicked Lady was still going, Martin was involved with another band called Dark. They were primarily the band of Steve Giles but Martin came in as second guitarist and not the lead guitarist as is often reported.  In fact, Martin only played one solo on Round The Edges, just at the end of the track live for today, a raucous unhinged solo that is possibly his favorite solo I he has recorded! Their debut album, which was originally made in only about 60 copies is one of the most rare and sought after vinyl records from the 70s and sells for big money. Kissing Spell, who released the two Wicked Lady CDs also released 4 albums by Dark on CD as well. The original Dark, Round the Edges (but just called Dark on Kissing Spell), Teenage Angst, Anonymous Days, and The Jam. There is also a DVD from the 1997 25th anniversary reunion show. The band also reunited and played live in 2011. The band is all still friends and speak and sometimes meet-rehearse but no new albums or gigs are planned.

Besides music Martin is also a forensic anthropologists and electrician, who has built his own guitar pedals and guitars. He also plays keyboards and for a while in the 90s made more electronic music like Timeshard, Banco da Gaia, Eat Static inspired stuff.

How did you get interested in making more electronic music? 

I got into electronic music in about 71 I was asked to join Dark as a synthetic player and turned up at the audition with a massive synthesizer that I built myself, it took three of us to get it down to Darks rehearsal cellar. The damn thing wouldn't make a sound but they knew I played guitar as well and they accepted me in as 2nd guitar. I never did play the synth for them but did support them once at a gig as a solo artist in maybe 72. I started doing solo gigs when Dark finished in 73 I played what we would now call Ambient music but then we called it head music. I joined a few bands of little note as a guitarist through the rest of the 70's and 80's and in the 90's I started producing electronic music again as a sideline to Dark, it was for my own enjoyment really, a hobby. I sold a few tracks here and there for compilations but never under my name, I used a different name for every track (tax avoidance).

What name is your electronic music published under??

One name I used was Seadog. 

Will more music from Dark ever be released? 

It's unlikely any more music will come from Dark, the old line up anyway. Steve Giles has drafted in a new bassist and guitarist and still does the odd gig. The last recording we did in 2015 was an EP called Welcome to the Edge, we re-recorded some tracks written by Steve from the very early days of Dark and never recorded properly. This is available from Darkedge records.

What are you up to musically these days?
I am now just making music for my YouTube channel:

I played a few gigs solo in Bulgaria doing some of the Youtube tracks and a few Wicked Lady tunes but since moving to Portugal not done anything yet. (Martin and Dr Space will make new music in 2018!!!)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tee Pee Records 2016-2017

Tee Pee is a New York based record label.  I have been a friend with Kenny (one of the owners) for some years. He leads the band Mirror Queen. Anyway, the label was kind enough to send me a stack of the latest releases on the label so I will go through and make some reviews. Enjoy. 

Joy- Ride Along (TPE183-2)

         Joy , a San Diego based band, really kicked ass when I saw them in Norway 2 years ago.  The band is primarily the vehicle of multiinstrumentalist Zachary Oakley, who on tracks 1, 6 and 10 plays all the instruments. I had not heard any of their albums but damn this is some great rocking and stuff with some burning lead guitar, just like I like it. They have a couple of different guys playing drums (Mario Rubalcaba, Thomas Debenedetto). Brendan Dellar (trk 3, 7) and Parker Griggs (Radio Moscow- trk 8) kick in with some extra guitars on a few tracks as well.  The album is all originals except for Certified Blues (ZZTOP). Cool stuff if you like hard rocking blues stuff with a lot of attitude and guitars!

Blaak Heat- Shifting Mirrors (TPE185-2)

         Blaak Heat is a very cool band originally from Paris. This is the bands 3rd album since 2008. I have been lucky to see them twice here in Portugal (Reverence Festival and Sonic Blast).  The core of the band is a three piece (Thomas, Henry, Mike) but 6 additional guests on the record join them. I have never heard any of their records but man this is a killer record if you dig mostly instrumental rock-metal with a bit of mid-eastern inspiration and vibe at times. Some great guitar solos and I love the addition of all sorts of cool instruments like Oud, kanun, Darbuka, and violin. Sword of Hakim is very 70s Scorpions inspired (think Steamrock Fever!). You can check out the video below. The Approach to Al-Mu`tasim is mid east inspired but has some really heavy guitars and quite complex arrangements and tells an interesting story. Taqsim brings things down with a short violin piece which leads into Ballad of Zeta Brown, a track with a great bass line and hard driving groove and guitars. Killer instrumental track. I could describe them all but this is just a great record with one amazing track after another.

Eerie- Eerie (TPE188-2)       

Eerie are a new SF bay area/east Coast four piece project featuring a heavy bunch of players including guitarist Tim Lehi (Draugar, Twilight), bassist Dave Sweetapple (Witch), drummer Moses Saarni (Futur Skullz) and vocalist Shane Baker (Pins of Light, Alaric). This is the bands debut and features 5 long tracks of heavy music. The production is very light and open and not so dark and bassy, which gives it a more psychedelic feeling to what could have been a very heavy record. Lots of metallic guitars, aggressive riffs, powerful vocals and long songs.  I could not find a web site or a video link to any of their music, sorry. The CD has some really cool artwork, especially inside the booklet! Enjoy.

Worshipper- Shadow Hymns (TPE189-2)

Worshipper is a new Boston based band playing what I would call classic heavy metal, inspired equally by the great bands of the 70s and 80s. High Above the Clouds starts things off with a slow moody metal piece with some great vocals (both lead and backing). Half way into the track they add some keyboards and spacey sounds to the mix. Very melodic solos to mix with the keyboards (no one is credited on the CD). Step Behind speeds things up with a heavier riff but also keeps it melodic. Ghosts and Breath is really classic NWOBHM stuff with some nice dual guitars.  Darkness (See the video below) is powerful track and also features some nice guitar playing. Reminds me a bit of Savatage. Plae beyond the light is a more commercial 80s metal rocker. Another Yesterday slows things down a bit and sounds like the first track. Wolf Song starts off with the dual guitars and reminds me a bit of the Scorpions. Black Corridor features a super cool guitar solo and finishes off this debut. Classic 80s metal style.

Ruby the Hatchet- Planetary Space Child (TPE196-2)

         I have seen a lot written about his band but never heard them before.  The band is based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The band is a five piece with a female lead singer (great voice!). This is the bands 3rd album since 2012. The album was recorded live in the studio in Philadelphia. The title track starts things off with a keyboard sequence that slowly builds up before the guitars kick in. The vocals start around 2 ½ mins and have this sort of dreamy distant sound but fit in well with the sort of medieval theme! Killer is next and has a nice headbanging groove to it. A nice compliment of guitars and organ on this one.  Pagan Ritual features a cool phased out guitar and nice organ playing on a track that has a cool build and maintains this aura of mystery. Great song. The Fool starts slowly with everyone noodling about over the bass line before the main riff kicks in. This is a quite moody track with a nice melodic guitar line and softly sung vocals.  Symphony of the Night is one of the highlights of the record with its dreamy nature and slow heavy build. Great track. Gemini licks in with a more rock and roll track, which is a nice change. Lightning comes Again closes the album with a beautiful number.  Cool band.

Sweet Apple- Sing the Night in Sorrow (TPE197-2)

         This is a band/project featuring members of Cobra Verde, Dinosaur Jr and Witch.  This is the group’s third record. Mark Lanegan is also found on a track or two.  This record is a real mix of pop, commercial rock, grunge, and hard rock. I have not quite heard a record like this one that twisted my head around and gave me really mixed feelings or whether this was really cool or crap??? I am still not 100% sure I get this record but maybe you will?? Check them out…

Biblical- The City that always Sleeps (TPE199-2)

This is the 2nd album by Toronto based Biblical and it features 8 tracks.  The four piece of primarily bass, drums, and two guitars, also throw in some analog synths here and there.  Mature Themes opens things up with an aggressive track with some almost screamed vocals. The sound production has this big loud open drum sound that gives it a special feel. The analog synths fade out of the first track and into The last thing I Remember. It has a long instrumental intro before the vocals kick in. A lot of effects on the vocals on this track making it quite trippy. Regicide is a beautiful and moody piece of music. Very cool. Fugue State features one Christine Boogie on pedal Steel and again has this sort of dreamy Pink Floyd like quality to it and some nice synth playing. The band is clearly a fan of Astra as well.  Gallows Humor brings back a harder edge sound and some more aggressive singing, while the music is still very melodic. Spiral Staircase is an instrumental track that starts with some piano before the drums kick in (loud!) and bit of a post-rock like feel to this track. The title track starts off with a guitar solo and a laid back vocal mixed a bit back in the mix. Some trippy delays in this track as well and a lot of reverb on the drum kit. House of Knives closes the CD with a good rocking number and kicks us a bit out of the dream state!  A solid record showing a lot of diversity.


Harsh Toke- Joy- Sacri Monti- Burnout (TPE-198-2)

This was released in a CD format but also as a triple 7” release. All the tracks on here are unique to this release. Each band also performs a unique cover song. Harsh Toke kick things off with two Roky Erickson tracks staring off with Burn the Flames (hear below). I have never heard the original (from 1986) but this is a pretty relaxed and normal track, nothing too freaky or cool actually, not even any ripping guitar solos. Bermuda is a more energetic track (also from 1986) with some nice guitar soloing. Not the best from Harsh Toke. 
Joy kicks in with Your time ain’t Long reminds me a lot of Blue Cheer, the bass, sound production and just overall rawness and energy of the track. Killer track.  Earth is a cover by the band ROAD.  Great riff and killer lead guitar on this track. Sacri Monti kicks off with an original called Over the Hill and features some cool organ to compliment the intense guitar playing. Sleeping for Years (Atomic Rooster) closes this release. All these bands are closely related sharing different members and they will all play at Roadburn 2018…

Mirror Queen- Verdigris (TPE200-02)

         It has been awhile since the last Mirror Queen record. This one features 7 tracks and kicks off with Poignard. This is real classic heavy metal, raise your sword and die for the king music!!  Great guitar solos. It reminds my wife of Pentagram. Flying Eyes has a real classic 1974 Blue Oyster Cult feel to it and some really nice playing and interaction between the band, as they stretch this one out. Sorrows End/Dark Kiss of the Sun is another long track. A very dark theme to this one, a real classic doom metal feel like old Candlemass! Starliner (see video below) is a cool song and it even features a strong nod to Don’t fear the Reaper by BOC at the 3min point followed by a great and long guitar solo. 

Verdigris, starts slowly with some dual harmony guitars as it slowly builds up and Kenny kicks in with the vocals. The album ends with a more uptempo rock and roll number called Curse the Night.   I have to say, this is the bands best work to date and an album I have really dug a lot.. Enjoy..

Taylor’s Universe- Almost Perfected (Marvel of Beauty MOBCD027)

Multi-instrumentalist Robin Taylor is back with 4 long tracks. Most of the band is the same as have backed Robin for last many years including,  Jakob Mygind (saxes), Thomas Ulstrup (Mini-moog solos), Rasmus Grosell (Drums-left), and Klaus Thrane (Drums-right). John Sund plays some really ripping guitar parts on all the tracks.  Louise Nipper and Jytte Lindberg provide some vocals.  Robin plays everything else. The first track Mean Attack has a harder guitar riff but starts off quite mellow with some hand percussion, bells, etc..  There are lots of great solos by all the players on this track. You lead guitar, sax, mini-moog as the drummers keep it steady. Despite the title, this track has many very nice and melodic moods to it with the happy mini-moog solo and the female vocals.  Great sound production. Definitely Greek (He Said) features one of the most complex vocal arrangement to appear on a Robin Taylor record with not just the ladies but Robin and also guest vocalist Pierre Hansson joining in. Some very cool minimoog parts on this mellow track as well.  The track nearly comes to an end and then a new section starts with some nice acoustic guitar and bass and then the mini-moog takes the lead once again.  It closes with some vocals and sax. Remembering Johannesburg starts with keyboards and a quite happy mood. John takes the lead with the first solo (guitar), he is followed by Jacob (Sax- sounds great with that little bit of delay!), and John returns with some acoustic guitar, which I liked very much. There is also a vocal section over which further solos are played as the track slowly reaches its climax and end at 9 ½ mins. Check out this video of Klaus recording his drums for this track. 
Dark Side of Alec is the last and longest track at 14:27. A short powerful opening fades down to some more ambient textures before the track builds up again at 1:17. This has some great sax playing and ripping guitar as it builds up and is a bit more jazzy and intense. The drumming is also really great on this one. I think they saved the best for last on this album.  A winner...