Rocking Rob’s Insider News

24 Apr

This week I was lucky enough to get a visit from a very old friend of mine who has worked in various positions in the music industry for 30 or so years. He was “fucking delighted” to hear that I was blogging and promptly offered an interview. For reasons that will become apparent I can’t use his real name so I’ve gone with Neil for the purposes of this post. I’ve cut it down a fair bit as we do tend to witter on aimlessly for the most part. Please note if you are easily offended by coarse language I suggest you go and watch the Waltons instead.

Rob: Hi Neil thanks for letting me record this.

Neil: Fair fucks Robbo.

Rob: Let’s start with the last few years, can you run me through what was going on from a label point of view?

Neil: We’ll the problem in 2011 – 12 was that all the fuckers who listened to Scremo, had grown up and decided to get job’s in Subway instead of cutting themselves to My Chemical Romance. Luckily the kid’s went tits for Dubstep last year, guy’s like Skrillex and Skream were getting hailed as the new fucking Messiah’s. The thing is it’s been pissing about London clubs since 2000 with barely a peep of recognition, thank fuck. Anyway, as soon the albums were cut we were putting it out to the press telling them to call it “grimy” or the favorite one was “cutting edge”. Everything last year was fucking “cutting edge”, the truth is it was shit sounding 80’s synths that were shit in the 80’s and shit now.

Rob: That’s a lot of shit.

Neil: It is a lot of shit, that’s why we send these briefs out. If every fucking fake spec wearing shit jockey journalist had a real fucking opinion they’d be no music industry. We tell them what to think, they tell the public what to think, the public gives us money. It’s an enormous circle jerk with the consumer standing right the fucking middle swallowing the filth whole.

Rob: So among all the circle jerking did you sign any Dubstep artists?

Neil: Course we fucking did, we’d sign a disabled monkey if we thought we could teach it to fuck a drum. There was this one prick, wee geeky bastard who spent his time wanking and fucking around in his mum and dad’s spare room. Everyone was after him because he had remixed some other twats tune and fucked it on You Tube. He was making everyone work like a bastard to sign him so I took him and his dad along to a Chelsea game (with full hospitality of course). After it they wanted to go out for a meal then to a couple of pubs, but you know me Rob I’m strictly old school, so I took them out on the lash then off to the strippers. I was starting to get a bit bored so I got him and his old man full of gear and they asked me to get some company for them. Now I might be a lot of things but I’m no home wrecker so I tried some tactics but they were set on it and they promptly pissed off. I ended up in some shit hole club and decided to sign the DJ. He ended up making us a fucking mint.

Rob: What about your man on you tube?

Neil: Fuck knows, thinking about what he’s having for dinner tonight probably.

Rob: Dubstep was obviously the big alternative hit last year, what about the commercial market?

Neil: Take a techno beat, add a female vocal fuck in a shouty chorus and you’ve got a hit. It’s been the same since the late 80’s only it was fresh then. You see that bastard Waterman on T.V talking about Motown and the death of songwriting, he fucking ushered in an era of insipid generic bollocks. It’s all templates anyway. Pidgeon holes and stencils so you can’t colour in outside the lines. The Coldplay template, the Guetta template the Gaga template, years ago it was Duran Duran or Take That, formula, formula, formula.

Rob: Tell me about the Coldplay template then.

Neil: Just listen to any Coldplay song then watch X-factor. Nice and slow, psudo intellectual lyrics then the pre chorus swell, cue the fucking doves and the choir. Of course by the end 90% of people have lost all interest because their concentration span is so short and the music is so bland. On the X Factor that’s when they wade in with the sparkles, confetti and loud bangs, gets you up from your near suicidal stupor. If it’s a Coldplay song, fuck knows what they do, I’ve never listened to one long enough to find out. (N.B open up your Spotify after reading this and click any Coldplay song, you probably wont last either)

Rob: So it’s more of a song template then?

Neil: Well yeah, that and image, It’s always been about the image Rob right back to the Beatles and probably even further. That Beethoven was a smooth fucker, he had better hair than Robert Plant and snazzier gear than Gaga, poncing about looking the mutts. I’ll bet Cowell would have him in a striped polo and skinny jeans, waving his little stick about to Father and Son while the girls shit their knickers.

Rob: Simon Cowell has a lot to answer for eh?

Neil: Are you kidding? Of course he does, every winner of that shite the X-factor is the same, slap them in a leather jacket add some nu rave abortion of song and hope for the best. If it doesn’t work then move on to the next sappy fuckers. If it’s not that it’s the cheeky chappy look or even worse One Direction. These are all acts without a fucking ounce of feeling, sentiment or talent.

Rob: Not a fan of James Arthur?

Neil: The Honey Monster? Fuck that, One Direction are the worst though. It’s a well known story that when John Peel first heard Teenage Kicks he pulled his car over and cried. When I heard One Directions cover a similar thing happened, only there was a lot more fucking swearing. What’s next Justin Beiber singing The Needle and The Damage Done straddling an inflatable syringe?

Rob: I wouldn’t mind seeing that.

Neil: Fuck off… Well, only if he was joined on stage by Harry Styles and Taylor Swift dressed as Sid and Nancy, fresh from a 3 day smack binge.

Rob: Moving on, What’s going to be big in the next few years?

Neil: Everyone is shitting themselves because Dubstep’s become mainstream and it’s not fucking cutting edge anymore. There seems to be a lot of sub genres popping up all over the gaff. Neo New Wave has been giving the geeks hard ons for a while. Have you seen that film Drive?

Rob: Yea

Neil: Every song sounds like the end credits to that. Basically, anyone with a computer can make music now and it seems rather than do anything with any fucking substance they want to make anemic shit stained records that sound like they come from a fucking commodore 64. It’s fuck all that’s new, but Kid’s don’t want to think they’re listening to the same bollocks their parents did so we stick it in a pair of neon tights and call it something different so the stupid fuckers lap it up.

Rob: What else?

Neil: Juke and Footwork have been kicking about for a while, just avoid it Rob. Samples of people shouting to drum beats you can’t dance to, it’s like happy hardcore minus the E.

Rob: Feeling old?

Neil: You fucking know it.

I’ve included a little sample of some DJ Spinn who is a Juke/footwork DJ. Enjoy?

Number One Review Spew

21 Apr

It hasn’t rained in Scotland for a couple of days which means it’s as close to Summer as it ever will be. The result of all this tropical sunshine is that old men’s tops will be removed, bad tattoos will be shown and electronic music will dominate the charts. Managing to mash together this tawdry trinity of terribleness is Rudiment with this weeks number one “Waiting all Night”.

 As a kid I loved my B.M.X (aka Street commander). For the most part I would cut through side streets with blatant disregard for knees and elbows, swooping passed pedestrians with a menacing grimace  while the can jammed in my back wheel grunted like a feral beast trapped in a cage, I was 6 at the time. As I grew up street commander became a bit of a hindrance in meeting girls (especially the can), so he was left to rust in the shed. It’s a phase that all boys go through and some never grow out of, these men either become burnouts or appear in drum and bass videos.


Rudimental’s video for “waiting all night” follows a group of such man children, who tear through the streets with gay abandon until one of the crew called Kurt is hit by a car loosing a leg. Normally this would put a bit of a dampener on proceedings however in-between terrorising nurses and drinking beer Kurt manages to rehabilitate himself, It’s inspiring and we all learn anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it. Anything other than making a good drum and bass record it would seem.

The song follows a well trodden path, the rhythm really whimpers a long and is about as generic as you can get within drum and bass. It’s the drum and bass equivalent of the chord progression 1-4-5, it’s a standard you can build on where the other parts of the song sweeping in make it what it is. In this case there is an auto tuned voice, some horrible synths and wonky horns. Presumably it’s these wonky horns that make this song number one worthy. 

I should probably point out the video is based on the inspirational true story of Kurt Yeager however it only really inspired me not to listen to Drum and Bass, ever.

Number 1 this week in 1993 – The Bluebells “Young at Heart”

Number 1 this week in 1983 – David Bowie “lets dance”

Number 1 this week in 1973 – Dawn Ft Tony Orlando – Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree

Rocking Red Royce

14 Apr

It’s being spun as a few uneducated members of the great unwashed having a bit of fun at the expense of the establishment. A few empty-headed, empty-souled oiks who have nothing better to do than tarnish the reputation of a beloved Baroness. Much of this impotent ire seems to press home heavily the idea that by purchasing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”, an asinine minority are tastelessly tossing the dirt from Maggie’s yet to be dug grave over the British flag. Take Conservative MP Philip Davies who said “I think this whole campaign is pretty pathetic really if the best these Left-wingers can achieve in their lives is to campaign for a song”. This from a man who opposes human rights for foreign nationals and wants to scrap the minimum wage.

Echoing this condescending tone is none other than the BBC. In a touching hand holding gesture, they will broadcast a news report to explain why the song has reached the charts 70 years after it’s release. Does the 16-24 demographic really need “Newsbeat” to say, “gather round the fire children and I will tell you a story about Baroness Thatcher”? A U-Gov Poll taken in January showed that only 15% of 18-24 year olds “didn’t know” If they thought Maggie should have a state Funeral. This, coupled with a recent estimate (U-gov again) showing that 40% of the Twittersphere (which is predominantly made up of this age group) are talking about Thatcher, shows overwhelmingly that 16-24 year olds have opinions and awareness.

The problem is the focus of debate has now moved from criticism of Thatcher’s (and the current government’s) policy to whether on not it’s tasteful to celebrate a death or if a song should be played or not. So let’s take this as a time to look upwards at the aloof snubbed noses and make them bloody by questioning the current administration. Let’s ask why in the UK 1 in 5 children are living below the poverty line? Why unemployment is currently at 2.5m (7.5%)? Why the top tax rate has remained untouched? Why Osborne’s austerity cuts are hitting the most vulnerable in society and still not contributing to growth?

As Billy Bragg said this week.

“The only real antidote to cynicism is activism. Don’t celebrate, organise”

To act as a reminder that not all us lefties are slack jawed morons braying with oafish delight at the death of an old woman, I’ve decided to do a top 5 Thatcher protest songs. Each of these are written by far better men than I. Lets not forget the miners who starved on the picket lines while she slept soundly. How she sat by and refused to impose sanctions on South Africa during apartheid, to allow British companies to rake in money. How she decimated communities by selling off industry raising unemployment to over 3 million. Most importantly, don’t forget that there is a rotten Thatcherite heart beating in the crooked chest of Westminster today.

The Specials – Ghost Town

Not a direct anti Thatcher song but an eerie indictment of the early 80’s.

Pink Floyd – The Fletcher Memorial Home

Rodger Waters imagines a home for tyrants including Margaret Thatcher, said to be a response to the invasion of the Falklands.

Morrissey – Maggie on The Guillotine

Another hauntingly morose lament from Mozza who said this week ““As a matter of recorded fact, Thatcher was a terror without an atom of humanity”

Elvis Costello – Tramp the Dirt Down

I didn’t want this article to resemble grave dancing, I’ll leave that the man who sings “When England was the whore of the world Margret was her madame”

Billy Bragg – Between The Wars

“I kept the faith and I kept voting not for the iron fist but for the helping hand”

sources (U-Gov Poll) (Child poverty statistics) (unemployment statistics)

Way Back When

9 Apr

Like your music old and smelling faintly of mothballs? Here’s this weeks historical music news. 

In 1969, Progfathers King Crimson make their live debut at The Rolling Stones in The Park gig in front of an estimated 500,000 strong crowd. The Stones themselves were reeling from the death of former band member Brian Jones who was pronounced dead 2 day’s previously. 

Cannabis and acid dealers across the world are left devastated as the Beatles announce their breakup this week in 1970. Paul  Mccartney moves on to form the band wings, John will have a successful solo career as will George Harrison while Ringo will go on to answer his backdated fan mail.

The rock world is Stunned as David Bowie announces his second retirement from music in 1975. In the same year Ronnie Wood is announced as the new Rolling Stones guitarist.

All round groovy chick Janis Joplin makes her first ever T.V appearance with the hugely underrated Big Brother and The Holding Company in 1968.

Musicians Born this week:

The Supreme Al Green

Hilel Slovack (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)

Lou Bega – Mambo No5

I was looking for the Big Brother and The Holding Company live footage to share but it’s really grainy and poor. Instead here’s a track from the Cheap Thrills album called Turtle Blues.

Does anyone have anything they would like to add?


Old Friends New Media

7 Apr

Part of the reason for starting this blog, was to share with you my time in the band Aluminium Swan. If you imagine the music business as an allotment, Led Zeppelin would be a marrow, Black Sabbath a squash and the Stones would be an equally phallic shaped vegetable (I like to think of them as a parsnip). Aluminium Swan never really made it onto the allotment, we probably could be equated to a small tub of cress grown by the owners Grandchild, sitting patiently on the window sill of the shed watching everyone else. Like cress we really didn’t taste of much but went well with other things (mostly mushrooms). I’m looking forward to telling you all about our times on the road, the hours spent hurtling up B roads crouched in the back of our van clutching on to our instruments for dear life. First I have to introduce you to the band, starting with the lead guitarist Ryan Porter.

The last time I saw Ryan was Christmas 2001, he told me that he had a 25 year old mistress from Brasil, that she was on tour with Enya and she was madly in love with him. To put this into context, the first time I met Ryan he told me that his Swedish girlfriend had just left to join the national netball team. This was OK because he was going to live with his pen pal Greta in Luxembourg. I have never met any of Ryan’s foreign trysts however I have met his lovely wife Marion from Hull, who he has lived with for 25 years. Some call it pathological lying, but I just see an imagination that can’t fit into one man’s head. I suppose it’s a bit like cooking a pot of potatoes with the lid on, (Pink Floyd in case you’re wondering) sometimes if you boil them too hard lots of shit falls out onto the cooker.

There wasn’t too many people could play guitar like Ryan, he was by a landslide the most talented person in the band. But with that much talent comes a great big fat fucking ego, stick that in one guys head along with his imagination and you’ve got a therapists dream. Of course if Ryan ever went to a therapist he would probably start telling them how to do their job.

I suppose that’s all you need to know about Ryan for now, a nice guy, a compulsive liar and a mean guitarist.

5 Secretly Metal Songs

6 Apr

The Osmonds – “Crazy Horses”

The Osmonds were banging on about equine sanity long before Findus were making crazy horses into low-budget savory pancakes. As a group, the Osmonds are about as savoury as you can get, strict Mormons who really don’t indulge in anything fun what so ever. Quite how they managed to include the most stoner friendly instrument ever (the theremin) in this song without having ever used any drugs is a marvel. That coupled with a pretty nice chugging riff and some seriously high-pitched vocals means this song really ticks along nicely. In fairness it’s not so much monsters of metal, more monsters of meek. Still, stick this on at a party and watch every grown man in the room nod along with the boy who sang puppy love. A special mention to the Umpa Lumpa look the Osmonds rock in this video. I assume fake tan is allowed by The Mormon church.

The Kinks – “You Really Got Me”

When Ray Davies wrote “You Really Got Me” I doubt he realised that in but a few years the skeletal menace that is Iggy Pop would be referencing this song as his awakening to music. Mostly associated with social commentary and (debatably) credited with writing the first ever concept album, The Kinks were one of the bands at the forefront of the British invasion of America.It was all very much, dapper suits, jangly guitars and a nice cup of tea thank you very much. But past the village green next to Waterloo sits this monster riff that inspired every generation since. Have a listen to this version, it packs more punch than Mike Tyson after a crate of Stella.

The Cure – “Fascination Street”

It’s a well known fact that the phrase “cheer up goth” was first uttered in 1979, shortly after Robert Smith walked off stage at Keighley arts centre. This sent Robert into a fit of depression and gloom that would last until circa 1992 (on a Friday). Somewhere in this haze of black eyeliner and lipstick The Cure released the chirpily titled disintegration album. With a bass line that would be at home on an Alice in Chains record, fascination street at times hunkers down on all fours and growls like a pitbull in a primary school. Admittedly there is a fair bit of synth in this song, but the swirling feedback nestling in the background tints the edges with a foreboding darkness.

The Smiths – “London”

The Smiths never really snarled at anyone, they were far more likely to be pleasant to your face and then say nasty things behind your back that you neither understood or cared about. That being said the opening riff to London sounds like if you looked at it funny it would “cut you up guv’nor”. If there’s any doubt that The Smiths are not a band to be trifled with, check out Morrissey’s slamming pit moves at the end of this video. It’s as if he is trying to punch his way out of a field of (timid) daffodils. (It really is worth a watch)

The Beatles – “Helter Skelter”

Charlie Manson’s Mum’s least favourite song was the inspiration for this post. Have a listen, it’s all there, dirty riff, wailing vocals, plodding drums and subtle metaphors for a race war that would bring society to its knees.

Number one Review Spew

4 Apr

Each week I will review the number one chart single and video. This week Ant and Dec’s homage to poor spelling “Lets Get Ready to Rhumble”

If Ashley Banjo has taught us anything, it’s that if you give a group of troubled kids a jonty beat, some ill-fitting clothes and a TV show, they will instinctively transform into well drilled dancing machines. Shockingly this is nothing new, and it would appear Ant and Dec have been saving the youth of Britain since the early 90’s with the very same schtick.

Spontaneous outbreaks of zany dance aside, there isn’t too much in this video to keep you interested. I am however, impressed at the duos ability to organise a rave. Picture if you will, 1,000 E’d up kids with glazed expressions, wide crazy eyes, sleeves drooping with exhaustion and big fish as far as the eye can see. Now imagine the same thing but with 1,000 gushing teenage girls eager to have a little Geordie sandwich.

Let’s face it, the song is terrible, it was terrible then it’s terrible now. It’s nostalgia at it’s absolute worst. If you find yourself tapping your feet as you listen to it promptly chop off your foot, followed by your ears, followed by your tongue. Two grotty kids you always wanted to punch who have grown up to be grotty adults you want to punch.

Listen if you must.

Number on the same day 20 years ago: The Bluebells – “Young At Heart”
Number on the same day 30 years ago: David Bowie – “Lets Dance”
Number on the same day 40 years ago: Gilbert O’Sullivan – “Get Down”

In The Beginning

3 Apr

Good evening Universe, my name is Rocking Rob Royce. One time singer of the greatest band never to be heard outside of the Yorkshire Dales “Aluminium Swan”. Part time blogger, half witted plumber and full time arse out Rocker! My aim with this blog is to regale, enlighten and entertain. Here I will express my opinions on new music by telling you how much better my generation did it. I will whisper all my tales of yore so when Valhalla beckons I can enter with a pint of stout and my hammer held high.