Review: CAPTAIN CHAOS

It has been a while since I did a music review. I started these reviews as I came across a lot of “free downloads” in the Bandcamp site. The genre of music of these downloads were of a: “punk, acoustic, anarchist, electric, protest, ukulele…” genre… yep quite a mix. And I happened to click on the digital link as it mentioned “name your price” which I did do… zero! and I started to download.
Well, although I am in for a bargain, I also believe to give back in other ways. So, the result being this blog posting about a band, group, solo performers, who let us have their music for free… lets hope it bring them some recognition.

The artist is called “Captain Chaos” and the recording is called “156 songs”, and yes he gives you 156 songs in his download zipped file. He is from the USA, I can not remember where. His CD cover is of a group of stuffed toy monkeys sitting on a CD box with a safety-pin through one of its noses… that gave me a chuckle.

When I first heard his music, I thought it has a loose rambling style like the old blues artists of the 1950s, how they tell a story using very few chord progressions…often only 1 chord. Then if you mix in a pinch of Skiffle, and humour, story telling, singing and shouting… you begin to get the idea.

You might be thinking what the hell is this USA music doing on a Carlisle punk band blog? Well if you are brave enough to go over to the “International Dole Cheques” page or to hear my “Business Controlled” acoustic recordings you will see what this is all about. It is about “getting off your arse and doing something”.

This guy is from the USA and I like that, because once upon a time, we were starved of information about music, now we can hear it and realise that what we were doing in the 80s is what someone is doing now… and for me that’s it is worth a listen.

His lyrics are not the most detailed in the world, but that is ok, and I quite like the “novel style” of writing that could take you in any direction, as any good story could do. He articulates well so you can follow what he is talking about… important in any story.

For example song 51, tells of how he moved into a new apartment and started a band, song 1, tells of how he robbed a bank and got away with it, song 117 last barely a minute and is a poem about a lost love… short or long he has a style.

The recording quality is ok, i mean they are done on the cheap and he must have recorded them live without any multitracking, but it comes across fine, D.I.Y. is fine. I like his style, he has a humour and he has the balls to pull it off. He does not take himself too seriously (I hope) and the lyrics entertain… they draw you in and sit you down and give you a cup of coco while they sing you to sleep. “No surprises please…” and you don’t get any except being pleasantly surprised.

Give it a listen over your cup of coco…and see what you get, if you get something totally different that is ok too… it might lead you somewhere else nice.

click here to go to bandcamp’s Captain Chaos – 156 Songs

 

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The Wanglers-Combo Zombo

“Kicking Out For the Coast” is another recording from the Carlisle band The Wanglers (this to be added to their page). I play their record a lot, I have sung it at various time, in various countries, it sticks in ones head…it is “uplifting” it is refreshing to the doom and gloom that is often heard. Also the first song “Surfin on the Solway” mentions an area which I love…the Solway Coast, very close to Carlisle, and it is the 3rd fastest estuary in the UK for incoming tides. Becasue its speed it creates a tidal bore a few times a year. A few surfers and the odd kayaker have been known to follow it down (there was even a runner who tried to out run it! He does not succeed) , and its currents drowned an army and an English King…nowt wrong with that.

My record/EP is full of scratches and jumps. These tracks were kindly sent by Sean Todhunter, which will be included in The Wanglers page:

It is a great image: Surfin on the Solway! Of the forgotten coast line, its cold beaches, its wind beaten dunes, its murkey waters, the tretcherous estuary’s forever moving sandbanks… all of it does not conjur up the sun swept coat of the Western USA of “The Beach Boys” and “Jan and Dean”, but that’s what happens when you mix Cumbrian humour and Carlisle’s music. Matchbox Classics produced a classic.

The photos are of my (well used) record slieve:

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Grant Christie mailed me “Hi Kev, here’s a few pics of the Combo Zombo 12 “Surfing on the Solway record” cheers Grant.

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(photos by Grant Christie)

Combo Zombo
I was always a bit confused where The Wanglers ended and Combo Zombo started. A biography in last.fm writes about the transition from The Wangers to Combo Zombo, which helps a bit… but I am going to group them into one, because in my mind they are.

“Combo Zombo are a Surf Punk band hailing from Carlisle, Cumbria. The band started their own record label called Matchbox Classics when all the members of two local bands; The Limps and No Support contributed £50 each to fund the creation of a split EP entitled ‘Opposite Sides’ releasing two tracks from each band.’ Chris and Keith formed Supermatix from the ashes of No Support in 1981, released another EP called ‘Bad Timing’ then formed The Wanglers with members of The Limps and Adrian Jonnson from The Spivs. They released their seminal EP ‘Kickin’ out for the Coast’ which featured the signature tune ‘Surfin on the Solway’, the album ‘Wax!’ came the following year. In 1984 the band re-booted themselves as Combo Zombo and released ‘Zom Bee Eye Eee’ before taking time out for other projects. Although they did all get back together at various times during the ’90s for festive shows.

In 2012 Chris, Keith, Chuck and Adrian hit the boards again for the first time in 15 years with a ‘Matchbox Classics presents’ evening at the Club Victoria in Carlisle, they were joined by Izzy Strugglin’ and Captain AD for the set. There are threats of more action from these surf-punksters!”

Sean Todhunter kindly sent these recordings of Combo Zombo and “Zom Bee Eye Eee” which I am sure is a piss-take on the “Stars on 45” recordings we got in the 80s… (Tenpole Tudor got in on the act!)

Here is the video for the recording “Zom Bie Eye Eee”. The quote underneath reads “The Wanglers all the way from 1981. A ‘Matchbox Classics’ release. Hi to everyone involved who remembers me. Looking out for that digitally re-mastered re-release and my share of the royalties for my toy ray gun session work on ‘My baby’s lost in space.’ (Bob Jefferson)
Didn’t Michael Jackson rip their idea off?

right, it is raining and cold… I am off surfin…

Punks

When I started I thought just to cover the bands in and around Carlisle, but it seems to me as I progress with this social history of Punk music in Cumbria I feel that it means nothing without the people who were in the bands, and more importantly the “lads and lasses” who went to “see” the bands, without them it would have been an empty project.
So here is a page for people! send photos if you have them…

ellie
Ellie (photo: Andrew Stevenson)
societies victims
Scog in  the band “Societies Victims” (photo: Nick Scott)
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Henshaw & Trotsky (photo: Nick Scott)
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?, Kev Bradly, ? (photo: Nick Scott)

nick
Nick Scott writes “me (Nick Scott) at Carlisle music collective” (photo: Nick Scott)

scog
Jamie Bell…Dale Burton..Liz(ex-wife) and Mike ( the Harraby Punk)Convery…I took the photo….going to see the Bunnymen in Glasgow….(photo Nick Scott).

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Duncan – without teeth, Stars and Stripes (photo: Sean Todhunter)

brads duncan
Brads & Duncan (photo: Sean Todhunter)

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Smoo / Pug / Duncan…Stars and Stripes (photo: Sean Todhunter)

sean
Grebo (photo: Sean Todhunter)

lyns photo

1980. Jed, Gilly, Emmy, Gee & Lynn (photo: Lynn Barlow)

sally
Sally (photo Andrew Stevenson)
kate ph me
Trotsky, PH, Kate (photo: Nick Scott)

exiles si
“The transit van pic is of our other original co-singer Harry Glaister on the way to the same gig – and sat up front (left to right) are Boogie, Nigel Holmes, and Exiles drummer Neil ‘Tef’ Telfer driving. In case you wanna use them”. (written by Si, The Exiles).

dunno kate
Kate Hooper, ?, ?, Trotsky, ?, Stephen Dunn
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Andrew Stevenson, Mark Ellerton
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Trotsky, Dung
scog pagoda
?, Nick Scott, Henshaw, Trotsky

jj photo
Jimmy Johnston

The Pedestrians

Bass, Vocals – Scog Misfit
Drums, Vocals, Written-By – Keir Husband
Guitar – Paul Henshaw
Keyboards – Simon Horobin

The Pedestrians were an early band from Carlisle, who released “Walk It” on the “8 From 80” record, a compilation of Carlisle bands (8 apparently!). Recorded in 1980 (apparently!), the song was written by Keir Husband. Scog had been involved with a growing punk scene in Carlisle for a lot longer than me, he was also younger than me, although we had both gone to Trinity school I had not known about him, or the Carlisle scene.

Some photos from the “8 From 80” record.

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Here is a recording of “Walk It” from Scog’s own channel

Soon after (or during their time) I met Scog (Nick Scott) and did my first ever rehearsal in his garage with my Kay guitar and reel-to-reel tape recorder as an amp, I remember playing the riff to “Pravda”! I have known Scog ever since, and we have come across each other in various musical forms.

These photos sent by Scog are classics (in my opinion), faces come back to me like a mirage. As far as I know they were a school band (?), Scog was at school then, but they had done some gigs.

This photo is from 1979

scog pedestrians 79

This was taken in the King’s Hall, Carlisle.

scog pedestrians 1

the next photos is of them playing in the King’s Hall, as Scog says “think this was the launch of 8 from 80”. and I think I was there, as I remember those fury jackets!

scog pedestrians

a comment from “Spencer Kurash”…
“I bought this when it first came out tho my copy had a b/w sleeve but with the same picture. Whilst walking my dog this morning the song “Walk it” popped into my head (can’t think why). It got me thinking “I wonder if possibly….and then your site popped up. I remember at the time this 7” came out John Peel saying it would probably be dismissed as “8 boring bands from Grimsby”….
(link)

The Exiles

I had left Carlisle in the early 90s so I did not know about The Exiles, it has been interesting to learn about them. I will leave it up to Tony Flags, to tell their story:

The Exile’s Line-up/s

August 1988–July 1989
Neil ‘Tef’ Telfer – drums
Simon Whittle – guitar
Phil Smith – bass
Harry Glaister – vocals
Chris Pearson – vocals

September 1989–October 2004 (& March 2009–September 2010)
Neil ‘Tef’ Telfer – drums
Simon Whittle – lead guitar
Phil Smith – bass/vocals
Chris Warwick – rhythm guitar
(Other members included Dinga, who joined briefly on guitar in mid-1993, and Mike Taylor who played drums for the last few gigs from spring-1994. Gary Porter also played drums for one or two gigs in 1992.)

September 2010–May 2015
Neil ‘Tef’ Telfer – drums
Simon Whittle – guitar
Phil Smith – bass/vocals
(Chris Warwick returned on guitar at rehearsals only – due to work commitments – from 2012 until his death in December 2014)

September 2015–present
Neil ‘Tef’ Telfer – drums
Simon Whittle – guitar/vocals
Debbie Ullrich – bass

“The Exiles second ever gig, supporting GBH at The Venue in Edinburgh, in May 1989. On stage there’s Phil on the left, two audience members dancing, co-singer Chris Pearson in the painted jacket, and Simon on the right.the beguiled si photos

The Exiles were relative latecomers to the Carlisle punk scene, debuting with a chaotic show at Wigton Rugby Club on Saturday 28 Jan 1989, playing mostly punk covers. The original two vocalists, Harry Glaister and Chris Pearson departed after only four gigs, notably including a support slot with GBH at the Venue in Edinburgh in May 1989.

Ditching the covers and recording their first demo ‘Fast As Einstein’ at Cottage Pie Studios in November 1989, the ‘classic’ Exiles line up of Neil ‘Tef’ Telfer, Phil Smith, Simon Whittle and Chris Warwick went on to play hundreds of gigs all over the UK, from Edinburgh to London, supporting bands like The Damned, The Buzzcocks, The Beat, The Rezillos, UK Subs, The Lurkers, The Vibrators, The Godfathers, The Real People, Chelsea, GBH, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Senseless Things, Beki Bondage, 999, Discharge and the Towers of London.

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The Exiles released the 7” Freaks EP in June 1991 on Matchbox Classics Records – the label having been impressed by an unreleased 12-track demo recorded in November 1990. Matchbox Classics also recorded another couple of Exiles tracks – for the local mid-1993 CD compilation ‘Sticklebacks’ – at a studio in Dunfermline with the same producer used on Freaks, Rob Jackson. A bootleg Exiles cassette – Live at the Front Page – also appeared May 1993.

Recording another demo in late 1993, Tef quit before it could be released in spring 1994, to concentrate on starting a family. With his replacement Mike Taylor almost immediately suffering health problems, and Simon being hospitalized for a large chunk of the summer, the band eventually split in October 1994.

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With Simon having moved to Glasgow before the millennium, the rest of the band reunited without him in 2005, calling themselves ‘Black Spirit Gauge’ and playing no Exiles songs. Tef quit the Gauge after one album, but Chris had asked him and Simon back to reunite The Exiles by 2009. Chris ended up leaving both bands after a bust up with Phil at a Black Spirit Gauge rehearsal in late 2010, which spelled the end of the Gauge.

Chris started rehearsing with The Exiles again in 2012 (a few months after the recording sessions for their only album to date) but his work commitments prevented his gigging with the band.

For an act on the go for so long, The Exiles have only recorded one album, Universal Suffering, released by Matchbox Classics and launched at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow in November 2013. The album sought to deliver what The Exiles were all about – high octane, accessible melodic punk rock, with left-leaning, pro-working class sociopolitical lyrics.

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With great reviews by the likes of Vive Le Rock (the album scored 8 out of 10 in VLR and other national high street magazines) and punk legends like TV Smith of The Adverts calling Universal Suffering “a great rock’n’roll album”, Rebellion Festival booked The Exiles for their August 2014 festival.

Rebellion saw the band play to a packed hall from the Arena Stage, despite being the second band on at the festival – the turnout probably helped by the band’s Alphaville track being featured on August 2014’s Vive Le Rock cover-mount CD, with the CD’s artwork inspired by the Exiles’ song.

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The reviews and interest generated by the Rebellion appearance seemed to cement The Exiles’ sudden popularity on the UK punk scene. But as they prepared to end 2014 at another regular sell-out show at King Tut’s in Glasgow, the year ended with a tragedy – Chris Warwick had a heart attack and fell into a coma on 7 December, dying ten days later. Chris had un-diagnosed Long QT Syndrome, and his cause of death was subsequently classed as ‘natural’.

The Exiles’ last full-band gig to date was headlining the Chris Warwick Tribute Revue on 27 February 2015 at the Brickyard in Carlisle, with support from local acts Colt 45, the Jude Connelly Band, Cosmic Cat and The Freedom. The Exiles were joined for most of their set by Dinga on vocals and guitar, and Jude on bass and keyboards. Hundreds turned out to give Chris the send off he deserved.

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As the band mourned the passing of their youngest member and best friend, it was decided in May 2015 that Tef and Simon would carry on without their fellow founder-member Phil.

After pondering their future over the summer, The Exiles recruited Debbie Ullrich on bass in September 2015, and Simon took over on vocals – testing out his voice with a short solo set, honouring the band’s slot at King Tut’s Strummer Night in December 2015, and going down a storm.

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On 3 April 2016, the new-look Exiles recorded a new version of From Nowhere To Nowhere and released it digitally five days later. Feedback on the new single has been great. The Exiles are currently rehearsing for gigs and future releases, with 12 new songs already in the bag and the vast majority of The Exiles back catalogue – mostly written by Simon – to choose from”.

Web and Social Media
http://theExiles.co.uk
http://facebook.com/TheExiles
http://twitter.com/the_exiles

The Exiles – Skurt Krazy, filmed 92/93

The Exiles – Alphaville

The Exiles- Sympathy For Dying Dolls

The Exiles – The Harder They Come

The Exiles – From Nowhere To Nowhere (Single Version)

Buy The Single
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/fro…
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01DX2OWIC
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/music/a…
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/2PHSBD…
Deezer: https://deezer.com/album/12803318

The Exiles – Universal Suffering Album CD
Exiles ‘Universal Suffering’ CD

The Exiles Youtube Channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF6XIrZY94sEhYR5UA1goew

You may find the following video useful, it features interviews with Dunno, Phil Exile and local Carlisle Punk Promoter Dave Bell
Creating opportunities in Cumbria featuring Phil Exiles plus local punk promoter Dave Bell

Sean Todhunter writes, “I first came across Si and Phil Exile back in the late 80s, we’re talking the post acid house, pre grunge early Manchester era… I ‘m not even sure if they had formed the Exiles yet.. they were these two young kids I’d notice around town , one always seemed to have a pistols t-shirt on and the other a Clash T-shirt.. so for a good while, they were Mr Pistol and Mr. Clash but in a world gone day glo and baggy, they stood out… they both had this look that was pure 1977..hand made stuff, slogans.. and this again is pre Manic Street Preachers. What struck me was, it looked purely organic and natural to them, this was no re run.. it was the real thing. So when I found out they had a band, I was naturally intrigued

By this point most of Carlisle’s early punk scene had honed their craft and were accomplished musicians playing in a myriad of classic bands like Traffic Jam Freeway, later to branch out as The Twiggs, The Daisy Chain Connection, The Cold Angels, Cosmic Cat and then there was a whole new generation of bands that had been raised on the Punk Indie spirit like Ten Gladioli , Flour, The Summer Tree who were just staring out.

The Exiles stood out from the start as they had this mad abandon about the way they played, their early sets were mainly covers as I remember but they’d take the stage at the Cricket Club like The Ramones at CBGBs in 75. These early gigs saw line up changes and the usual teething problems but once the line-up settled down to the /classic Phil,Si, Chris, Tef line up and they focused more on their own original material, that’s when things really started to kick off”.

Sean’s Radio Frequency

I have edited and uploaded Sean Todhunter’s radio show “Radio Frequency”. The 3 programmes features various music from Carlisle punk bands, with Sean’s eloquence as always!
The first programme lasts about 45 minutes and features bands such as The Exiles, Cold Angels, Havana Affair and the Beguiled.
The 2nd programme features tracks from D.O.S.’s 2nd demo recording “This Is D.O.S.”.
The 3rd programme is an introduction to the music scene in Carlisle, it lasts about 40 minutes.

Sean was not know for being in the bands, but he was a very brief member of “Nightmares in a Damaged Brain” who appeared for 1 night at Stars and Stripes to sing on a Damned song we were performing. He walked on stage with a turnip underneath his arm, he placed it on the stage floor and produced a machete, where he began to slice and chop the vegetable into tiny pieces. We did not know what was happening but carried on regardless.

Sean and I lost contact for many years but recently (via FB) I have gotten to know him again and his weekly radio programmes featuring music from a wide collection of genres, but all of which have meant something to various sub-cultures.

You can check out his full radio shows here: