Tag Archives: Graham Day

Top Ten Albums of 2010 – #1

(No TGIF today as we conclude the 2010 countdown…)

When all is said and done, rock’n’roll is supposed to be a release, whether that’s from the pulsating rhythm of the music, the depth of the lyrical message or the sheer enjoyment of playing the damned thing loud. It’s hard enough to compare the apples and oranges of music, but when I was finalizing the list I asked myself… which album brought me the most pleasure? Which did I play the most often? Which did I look forward to playing, even if I had heard it thirty times?

And so I give you Pictures from The Len Price 3.

Video: “Mr. Grey

Recalling the great kinetic music of  The Kinks, The Creation, The Small Faces and the early Who, the trio blends in irresistible pop vocals (think Sire-era Searchers or The Records) and punk energy (The Jam and The Clash being obvious influences). The result is a baker’s dozen of explosive three-minute singles; kudos to the production of Graham Day (The Prisoners, Graham Day and the Gaolers).

The album launches itself with the title track (led by Keith Moon drum fills) and follows that jab with the right cross of the celebretard anthem “Keep Your Eyes On Me“, one of 2010’s absolute classics.

Free Download (while it lasts!): “Keep Your Eyes On Me

By the time I got to the third track, “I Don’t Believe You” I already knew I was gobsmacked…and then it just got better. Music like this is the epitome of what the Underground Garage is going for, so it’s no wonder that Little Steven signed these guys onto his Wicked Cool label. I really liked their first two albums Rentacrowd and Chinese Burn, but Pictures is a leap forward even from those. I had it pegged as a best-of contender when it came out in January, and sure enough,  it held off all comers to finish as the best album of 2010.

Listen to clips at Amazon

Video: “I Don’t Believe You

Len Price 3 on MySpace

The Prisoners heritage is clear


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Under The Radar: The Prisoners

You can run, but you can’t hide.

Meaning I may not hear your album right away, but if it’s good, someday I’ll eventually get tipped to it. I stumbled backwards into The Prisoners after being knocked out by Graham Day and the Gaolers and retracing the steps. Always a fan of the Mod sound and the garage-pop-punk from the Medway scene, I’m a bit surprised that I missed this the first time around. But better late than never – I’ve scooped up all their stuff over the past couple of years.

The band formed around 1980 and drew heavily from the usual pop psych influences like The Small Faces and The Pretty Things, although having The (Thee) Milkshakes as virtual neighbors didn’t hurt either. The Jam might have become far more popular, but if you think Paul Weller was the shit, you should listen to A Taste Of Pink immediately. If the opener “Better In Black” doesn’t grab you in three seconds flat, call the doctor.

The Prisoners boast a tight punchy sound shaped primarily by Day’s ringing guitars and the great organ playing of James Taylor, who channeled a synth through a loudspeaker to create unique Casio/Farfisa sounds as well as pumping out classic Hammond riffs. Allan Crockford on bass and Johnny Symons on drums held down the bottom with manic energy.

Video: “Hide and Seek

As with all good things, it didn’t last – four albums later, the band was done by 1986. But in its wake, among other projects, The Solarflares (with Day and Crockford) carried the torch and now Graham Day is back with more. Fans of The White Stripes and the Underground Garage playlist as well as devotees of the original influences will find much to like here; their 80s music is as exciting as anything being released today.

The Prisoners at MySpace

The Prisoners discography at Ace Records

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New Album! Len Price 3


I direct you again to Bucketfull of Brains, a superior publication I am proud to have been associated with for over a decade. This review, written in January, is available in the current issue which hit the stands in early March… 

There is no “Len Price“, of course; this Medway trio is composed of Glenn Page on guitar and vocals, Steve Huggins on bass, and drummer Neil Fromow. But perhaps a better way to phrase it would be that the band is composed of The Who, The Kinks and The Jam. Because if any of those three bands make the hair on your…well, hairy areas stand up, this is the band for you. If two or more of those bands make you strap on an air guitar, I may have your new favorite record in my hands. 

Fromow counts off the opening track (the title song) by clicking his drumsticks before launching into Keith Moon mania, with Huggins right on his tail like a hyperactive Bruce Foxton. You can almost see Page windmilling his guitar in his best Townsend pose, dripping Medway accent into the microphone with the energy of a teenager. And that’s how it goes on this thirteen-song, thirty-minute workout – one great song after another. Stripped down, short sharp and pop, echoing the greats but not mimicking them. 

The Prisoners heritage is clear

Touchstones abound – “I Don’t Believe You” is the son of “She’s Got Everything”, and “Keep Your Eyes on Me” is cut from the cloth of The Who Sell Out. The infectious “After You’re Gone” will remind one of “So Sad About Us”, and even the title of “Mr. Grey” sounds like a Paul Weller tribute (albeit with a flourish of horns straight out of “Penny Lane”). This album has it all – ringing guitars, great vocals, and catchy songs fueled by power chords and muscular drumming. It reminded me of recent favorites by Muck and the Mires and Graham Day and the Gaolers – and sure enough, Graham Day was one of the producers on this record. 

This is the third album from The Len Price 3, and while the other two were very good, Pictures is flat-out brilliant;  the first great record of the year and a lock for my Best Of 2010 list. Get it now.  

Robin Williams' Emmy via David Mills' words

And another sad loss…writer David Mills died yesterday from a brain aneurysm. Mills wrote for some of my favorite television shows – NYPD Blue, The Wire, Homicide – as well as helming The Corner and collaborating with David Simon on the upcoming Treme for HBO. He was only 48 years old. 

“What I can bring is the sort of simple story stuff, the stuff I would feel like I can contribute to any show I happen to be on at any given time, which is just, ‘How do we get the most out of these characters.” 

Here’s a nice tribute from friend and TV critic Alan Sepinwall

And another from NOLA.

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2008 Countdown: 20, 19, 18, 17, 16



The countdown of the Best Albums of 2008 continues…



20. The Hold Steady:  Stay Positive

Craig Finn is on a roll. While I don’t think this necessarily The Hold Steady‘s their best album, each of them invoke so many moods that I’m constantly going back and forth between them. Of course, half the fun is digging through the circular references to past albums, the toss-away pop-culture references (“Saint Joe Strummer”, the “cutters”, etc.) and the endless ways he seems to be able to write interesting stories that start out with the protagonist going out to get hammered and (hopefully) hook up, which usually leads to some reflective perspective from the end point. Stay “positive” indeed!

“Sequestered In Memphis” is ten times as good as it’s title, end epitomizes the Hold Steady formula that knocks me out – driving guitar rock, tasteful (and tasty) organ/piano accents, stuttering rhythms, verbose but invigorating lyrics spewed from a guy who sounds like the Counting Crows’ Adam Durwitz channeling Dylan. On the title track, he’s eerily reminiscent of another verbose poet-turned-rocker, Jim Carroll. But perhaps Finn nails the best description of the band in the opening lines of the first song: “me and my friends are like the drums on “Lust For Life”

19. Derby:  Posters Fade

An impressively broad album, Posters Fade sounds like collaboration between Big Star and Wilco. The melodies are strong and varied, the arrangements diverse, and Derby avoids the common tricks and traps most bands feel safe with. There are layers of vocals and instruments building sonic tapestries which tease a million classic pop bands (Spoonful, Byrds, Kinks, ELO, etc.) before they unfold and lead to the juicy melody at the core. The production is dynamic yet varied enough throughout the album to never hint at anything repetitive and basic enough with which to pigeonhole them. Every track surprises.

And in their more simple, stripped down attempts, it’s as if a Simon and Garfunkel tribute was being hosted by members of The Shins and Snow Patrol. Consider “Episode”, whose gentle acoustic rhythm, sweet vocal and lilting pedal steel guitar frame the ironic subject matter (“I’ll wait here on my own/ I’ll go alone/sure beats hanging out with you instead”). I hear a million influences, every song is different, yet somehow through all of this, they craft an identity that’s irresistible – how do they do that? I don’t know and I don’t care – this is brilliant stuff and it only gets better with repeated spins.

18. Ray Davies:  Working Man’s Cafe

No, it’s not the great lost Kinks album many of us hope for, and yes, it’s pretty low-key overall, no Dave Davies wanking to be found. But when you stop and think about the best material Ray has done over the past twenty years, hasn’t the vast majority of it been more in this vein anyway? You can’t expect the man to do cartwheels and stage splits forty-plus years later (especially after he gets shot in the leg…but I digress.) Consider this a phone call from an old friend who used to tell you wonderful stories about other people, and now decided to tell you some about him.

Davies’ acerbic wit and sharp social observations are still keen, and his swipes at modern English life are not that far removed from his classic early material, except that the youthful dreamers and optimists have been replaced by the wiser, older pragmatists. He’s still the little guy facing off against the government or big (now global) corporations. The album doesn’t rock as much as it does chug along, but I don’t mind – Ray Davies is a person I always want to listen to intently. I don’t know if any of the songs will stay in my head forever – you have no idea how many Kinks Klassics are burned into my skull – but I suspect “Peace In Our Time” might be the appropriate best bet.

17. Graham Day and the Gaolers:  Triple Distilled

What if Cream decided to pursue the path of a pop band rather than the blues? Not that anyone would ever confuse Jack Bruce or Graham Day with light and fluffy melodies, but many classic rock and roll singles did have blues chops at their core. But much like the edits of “Sunshine Of Your Love” and “White Room” – not to mention the first several Who and Yardbirds singles that are also a clear influence – Day is able to fuse the mania into an infectious and memorable three minutes per shot.

This is not a subtle record – “Glad I’m Not Young” comes careening out of the speakers fueled by jangling guitar chords, foot stomping 4/4/ beat and drums from The Church Of Keith Moon, and it never lets up. You’ll barely have a chance to catch your breath blasting through thirteen amped-up tracks that sound like lost singles made by classic British rock bands; retro-cool yet fresh and exciting at the same time (well, until that sitar showed up…) Day was a founding member of The Prisoners, spent time with Billy Childish in Thee Mighty Ceasars and more recently wowed us as part of the Solar Flares. This is his second album under this moniker, and he’s clearly still at the top of the game. If Mike Myers ever makes another Austin Powers movie, he’d be smart to use this as the soundtrack.

16. The Venus Infers:  The Truth About The Venus Infers

Wow…I had heard a couple of their earlier releases and nothing prepared me for this. Hate to say it, but the departure of vocalist Trisha Smith was a blessing in disguise. Freed to take the lead, Davis Fetter bellows out minor chord anthems with the energy of a young Bono. The music, however, is deeper, operatic, bombastic and majestic, and with Fetter throwing in the kitchen sink vocally (delicate falsetto to arena-sized Springsteen at the drop of a hat) it is an album of non-stop passion and energy.

Of course, if the songs sucked that would negate the whole enchilada. Basically six songs long with an intro and outro, Truth is mesmerizing from the first note on the baited hook until you’re gently wriggled loose and dropped back into the water. As you listen to the middle songs you can almost imagine them deciding to drop-kick Coldplay, The Killers and Radiohead in order by beating them at their own game. “Waterfalls” is one of the prettiest songs I’ve heard all year and Thom Yorke will retire if he hears it.


Check back daily this week for more of the countdown. The list will be updated on the MUSIC tab.


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