Psonic Psunday has been broadcasting from legendary community station ALL FM, here in the UK, for 6 years. It’s had a mixed cast over the years with 3 of us becoming 2, then at the start of 2020 John announced he was too stretched across projects (he’s in more than 1 band) to continue and so introduced me to Mick Middles, a very well-known and respected music writer from here in Manchester who has written a number of books including 13 biographies, to step in. We got on very well and right now I sorely miss Mick’s input. But, yeah, COVID lockdown screwed everything up and I’ve not seen him since March. Could be April. It’s been a loooong year.
You see, up til that point we’d been using the ALL FM studio in Levenshulme (Manchester). We’d bring in our tunes and notes and 2 hours later we’re handing over to Wayne’s Global Stereo Sounds and looking forward to the next pshow in a fortnight. The studio and the station are fantastic but they had to follow guidelines and Mick and I are in different bubbles, so we’d be breaking studio rules if we tried a pshow together. So that was that.
That put me in the unfamiliar world of pre-records and at first I hated every second. I’ve never been keen on the sound of my own voice and suddenly I had to write a whole pshow solo and make it sound spontaneous. I even submitted old pshows rather than go through a painful process, which hasn’t happened before or since. I was literally at the point of packing it all in, like who gives a shit? and then I discovered that, yes, some people really give a shit and told me so, which changed where my head was at. I’d finally admitted I needed help and asked friends and listeners to record links, which many did and it was great, but one friend got completely the wrong idea – and sent in about 30 links. Well, I might have tricked him, now you mention it. His name was Mickey Banks. So Psonic Psunday got The Sonic Gypsy Pirate Takeover, and it went down a storm. That’s a whole story in itself but basically as The Sonic Gypsy Radio Show become more popular, there was a lot more interest in Psonic Psunday. The third thing to turn things around was Zac. Zac had been in the original gang of 3 and had had to quit because of new work hours clashing on the Psundays for the old live pshows. Anyway, he offered to let me use his recording studio (spare bedroom, but you’d be impressed if you saw it) and we would record pshows straight through, which is as ‘live’ as we can really make it and it’s FUN again. And PP gets shared to Zac’s Team Human stable that could well end up as a radio station in and of itself.
Because The Sonic Gypsy Radio Show was picked up by Firebrand Radio, the guys there listened to PP and asked if I’d like a slot. Now, this was damn handy. Before this point, SGRS was going out weekly with PP fortnightly and they were both on in the UK from 5-7pm. Listeners would ask for me to get the pshow on Mixcloud quickly but they weren’t really happy with the arrangement until Firebrand gave me the slot before Mickey’s (3-5pm UK) and everyone was as happy as Larry. One side effect of this was that PP was required weekly. Well, it would still be going out on ALL FM every other week, so that meant we had a pshow that was no longer OFCOM bound. Fucking Brucey BONUS! We can blaspheme, bring in political content, dodgy theories and play George FUCKING Carlin. What more could you ask for? We (this is the royal ‘we’, mind) thought these should be labelled ‘unPshackled’ just in case we do anything stupid like send one in to ALL FM. It happens and the blood drains from my face at the very thought.
Anyway, all was cool until less than a month into this new schedule, Firebrand announced it was to close. Fuck. Now what? Well, the guys at Firebrand didn’t just leave us there dangling and suggested TapDetroit as a going concern in need of shows to fill out the schedule. And TapDetroit Rocks Motherfuckers! It’s been great! I’ve never been to the States but now I want to visit Detroit and hopefully meet some of the characters I’m getting to know. Even Zac feels the same way. Mickey was a dead cert. “Detroit? Fuck Yeah!” Who knows what the future holds after this pathetic response to a pandemic.
This pshow is unPshackled and went out on November 29th. I’m still getting used to American date format. It should have been recorded at Zac’s but I had to pull out with a nasty headache so I wrote it over 3 hours and recording my links in about 12 minutes. Relatively painless then.
Kicking off the pshow, we had Les Manteez, who sent me Marmalade/Too Many Gangsters to add to quite a collection of ace tunes – think of an early Velvet Underground grunged up groove with layers of extra fuzz for good measure and you won’t be far wrong. We try and get some good stand up comedy into the unPshackleds, seeing as most of the comedy we like wouldn’t get the OFCOM stamp of approval. Steven Wright is the definition of dead pan with a voice so unique Quentin Tarantino had to use it to thread Reservoir Dogs together. There aren’t as many radio quality clips of Steven around, but we found 2 and that’s enough for this pshow.
Thanks to a tip from Dave Meek, who listens to a lot of 6 Music, for recommending Laura Marling‘s Alexandra and Michael Kiwanuka‘s Light. Laura Marling has figured prominently on the pshow in the past while Michael Kiwanuka had frankly passed me by til this. He’s released two albums to date (Home Again and Love & Hate) on top of a couple of EPs and will probably feature again in the pshow soon.
Baxter Dury’s an interesting musician and fun fact – he appeared on the front of his dad’s best selling album New Boots and Panties. Yeah, that Baxter Dury. Much of his delivery is less singing lyrics and more throwing threats and generally self-aggrandizing, but then slips in a beautiful soft side and clearly he’s counterpointing against some great instrumentation and harmonies. Not an eazy geezer to define. Check out Soirée de Poche on YouTube for a proper introduction.
Pixies, meanwhile, need no introduction. One friend commented that Pixies were his cut off point – if you didn’t like em you could fuck off. His words, but he clearly has a strong point. I’ve Been Tired is from the debut EP Come On You Pilgrims – the one with the hairy back – and contains the immortal line, “losing my penis to a whore with disease, I said please” – so clearly not something I’ve been able to play before on the FM.
Aldous Harding is a curious individual. I’d say ‘odd’ but ‘odd’ lacks an elegance clearly present in spades. [Sorry, Odd, if you’re reading this] I’ll plump for strange. She started out in New Zealand but at some point in the last decade moved to Cardiff, Wales, and has been very productive since. Anyway, I’ve played The Barrel before but it was on in Poundstretchers when we were shopping and I thought I’d add it to the playlist again. I adore the lines “you shook at the ivory mantle; as a poet, I knew to be gentle; when you have a child, so begins the braiding; and in that braid you stay.” If you click on the link on her name, you can find her latest single Zoo Eyes – which will definitely be played in the not too distant.
THR33 are a stunning act that for me have bridged a gap between rock and prog. I’ve seen them pull together their love of Steely Dan, Frank Zappa, Billy Cobham, Floyd, Yes and even John Lee Hooker to play some blistering sets. And then I heard the new songs they’d been writing together and suddenly we had an album too. It’s awesome and we must have played the whole thing by now. I was hoping to be involved in filming/recording their stuff live but COVID’s scuppered that of course.
sotunes is a recent surprise find. Stevie Oakes is a friend on Facebook who I’ve met at a couple of gigs, including him drumming at one. I had no idea he played more than that until he advertised the album on a local business page and I happened to spot it. Glad I did. It’s a great mixture of styles and collaborations well worth investigating.
John, who used to do the pshow with me, tipped Furah Dread and it would have been rude not. Very catchy. Furah’s a reggae artist from South Africa and we’ll probably play more if we can get it. Will Wesley‘s recently submitted to the pshow with the rocky Let It All Burn and now the more bluegrass Leah that I had to couple with the Sid Griffin masterpiece (well, it works for me) If I Were A Bramble And You Were A Rose. Not all of the 80s were shit. I don’t like Bo Diddley – said no-one ever. Anything’ll do. He invented a new sub-section of rock’n’roll that’s still used and abused. Pills is probably as dark as he ever got.
Garfunkel & Oates – oh, lord – I had no idea what reaction that would get. Zac introduced me to them when we were attempting to record pre-headache and you can immediately see why it was inevitable it would feature. I already possess a deep antipathy towards most established and dogmatic religions, fuelled by such hypocrisy and threats of eternal damnation so taking it up the ass for Jesus (cos we’re TIGHT) to me hits the spot, if you pardon the pun.
Tom Welsh is a songwriter-arranger from not far from Manchester (just up the M61 to Chorley) and came to my attention through Puffer Fish Press, local pluggers and promoters. Wowwed over immediately by his first couple to come out (Everything That Might Be and Time Runs Away With You), I did an interview with him on the last pshow that I uploaded separately for the curious (Tom on Mixcloud) in case you’d like to peer into the mind of a songwriter.
And then some rap. Being from a largely white upbringing I wasn’t exposed to enough rap to form as big a chunk of my musical breadth as it should. If that makes sense. Like everybody else I loved the Aerosmith – RUN DMC crossover and looking back I can see it was probably a pivotal moment for many people like myself. Anyway, the door was open and is it ok to love De La Soul and Public Enemy equally? I wouldn’t necessarily call De La Soul rap, more hip-hop maybe but anyway the voice that spoke to me in a way that not really anybody had before was Chuck D. Demands your attention and delivers what we need to hear. No other musical form can be more direct (although fans of Sleaford Mods might have a point). I digress. Killer Mike is combo of rapper, actor, and activist – and we clearly agree on presidential nominations. Shame I’m a UK voter. Reagan looks at the utter hypocrisy of the drug war that impoverishes and criminalises black slaves to the machine. Same shit, different scam. Immortal Technique again is from the laughable category of “radical left”. What goes for “radical left” in America is no more extreme than social democracy in Europe. But Republicans have skewed the lexicon and socialism is now a dirty word. It’s a bitter joke – as you have to fight for what Europeans already consider basic rights – the right to accessible justice, health care, child care, unemployment benefits and so on. Civil War lambasts the complicit Blacks (I won’t use his language) for sitting there and taking it just as much as the white elite who tell them which tune to dance to. Brother Ali brings Nina Simone right up to date with the same message, but Brother Ali won’t face the backlash Nina did. Another extraordinary truth teller – “we no longer need chains to be slaves” in the machine that is the United States.
mylittlebrother are a great band from Cumbria, UK, on Big Stir. Howl is their second album and we’ve already played the catchy as hell Chicago and a couple of other tracks. This week it’s the turn of the first single off of it, Janey. And it’s delicious too with more hooks than a mackerel fisherman from Whitehaven. So I coupled it with my favourite tune from the Rudderless soundtrack, Stay With You.
Ooh, the lighter side of jazz – Jeremy Sassoon. Well, he is on his live CD. His debut CD Coming Out was more bluesy and also well worth checking out. Dusty here is from Dusty in Memphis from 1968 – generally recognised as her finest album, and deservedly so.
I did mention Sleaford Mods as being direct of message, utterly blunt. Well, here’s a recent offering, Spider Kebab, one with the collaboration with Billy Nomates (Mork and Mindy) and then Billy herself with the outrageously catchy Hippy Elite. I reckon that many people have been inspired by the Mods to think I could do that. Well, if through a journey you can kick out original material as strong as this then go for it. A collective and deserved slap in the face.
Almost at the end I squeezed in Pixies again with Gigantic, Neil Young’s ear worm Harvest Moon and finally some more of the subliminally ridiculous Steven Wright to book end.
Fuck me, I’m glad I’ve finished that. Future posts will be MUCH shorter. I just have to learn to be a writer again. It’s been a long time.