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  1. I encountered the Milltown Brothers in September 1991 when they were booked as the support on The Wonder Stuff’s “Never Going To Memphis” US tour. We all got on immediately and they were great company on that month long tour. I got on particularly well with their roadie, Spike, a joke cracking ball of energy from Leicester. It was his first time in the US of A and by this time I felt like a bit of a veteran, this being my third swing through America. It was great to see them all being as blown away by the country as we were.

    The Milltown’s were a five piece featuring brothers Matt and Simon Nelson up front and, unusually for the time, heavily featuring Barney Williams and his Hammond Organ. That’s one of the things that drew me to them cos I bloody love a swirling Hammond. They wrote great, hook laden songs that reminded me of the Teardrop Explodes, 60’s psychedelia and had a hint of the Manchester Baggy thing going on in places.

    Side 1 is superb. The first 4 songs, “Apple Green”, “Here I Stand”, the gorgeous ballad “Sally Ann” and their Top 40 single “Which Way Should I Jump” leave you breathless. Side 2 lets up on the pedal , but not much. “Seems To Me” is a banging, Hammond driven, air punching singalong and it all comes to an end with the gentler “Sandman” and “Real”.

    I did a couple of gigs working for the Milltown’s in 1992 as, in the early part of that year, we got the tragic news that Spike had been killed in an accident on the autobahn while out on tour with another band in Germany. On 19th March 1992 The Wonder Stuff appeared billed only as “very special guests” (and there’s a whole other story around that gig) on a bill with the Milltown Brothers and Crazyhead at Leicester University to raise money for his family.

    I have nothing but great memories of my time around the Milltown Brothers. This is a great record and I’m really happy to have it on vinyl at last. I gotta admit whenever I hear “Sally Ann” I always tear up a bit remembering singing along to it at side of stage with Spike. Sleep well my friend x

    Sally Ann - https://youtu.be/1qdNN9T61A0?si=AToQyLVwInnn_C7c


  2. We’d heard all the crazy stories about Lee Mavers. Always off his head on something, refusing to record on any equipment made after the end of the Sixties, churning through band members and producers, never being satisfied with any recordings and all this culminating in record label Go! Discs telling (final) producer Steve Lillywhite to piece together an album from whatever recordings he had as they had already spent so much money on it they needed to release something. It was bound to be a mess, right ?

    Then sometime in the mid-90’s I picked up a cheap CD of it just to have a listen and…hell’s teeth what a bloody wonderful album this is. Yes it’s hugely influenced by the sound of 60’s Liverpool but it is unmistakably not of the ‘60’s. And oh those songs. I’m pretty sure everybody reading this will be familiar with their single “There She Goes”, and great as it is that’s not even the best thing on here !

    “Timeless Melody”, for that is most certainly the greatest thing on here, is a thing of absolute beauty and wonder. I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to sit back after having written something like this but I’d be willing to give up at least one major limb to find out. The melody, the rhythms that are weaving in and around the lyrics, all of it completely transfixes me whenever I hear it. The lyric “The melody chord unwinds me, The rhythm of life unties me, Brushing the hands of time away” sums up perfectly that moment you get completely lost in the music. Ian Prowse is wont to add a little of “Timeless Melody” into the end of “Does This Train Stop On Merseyside ?” when he plays live which floored me the first time I heard it and also reinforces the position the song holds among Liverpool musicians. It is quite simply one of the greatest songs to come out of Liverpool, and it has some competition !

    Elsewhere “Son Of A Gun”, “Doledrum” and particularly side 2’s opener “Feelin’” have a sound and quality to them that I’ve mentioned before. They are pieces of music that could only have come from Liverpool. There is a joy and a cockiness and a sense of rhythm about them that shouts “we’re scouse la’ !” at you. The album ends on “Looking Glass”, an almost 8 minute pop-psychedelic mantra which finishes on the lyric “The glass is smashed, The change is cast”…almost prophetic.

    It took 3 years to make this record. Producers like John Porter, (Roxy Music, Killing Joke, The Smiths) John Leckie (Magazine, XTC, The Stone Roses), Mike Hedges (Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure, Wah!) and finally Steve Lillywhite (U2, Simple Minds, The Pogues, Kirsty MacColl) tried to capture the sound Lee Mavers heard in his head, but failed. As soon as the album was released the band (Mavers ?) disowned it and The La’s never made another record. John Power, the only other permanent member of The La’s, went on to form Cast and is still recording and touring under that name today.

    If you have any sort of interest in great songwriting and somewhat 60’s influenced guitar pop and you’ve never heard this record then I’d urge you to remedy that very soon starting with clicking the link below, turning your chosen device up loud and bathing in the glory of “Timeless Melody”. I would never be so bold as to suggest that Lee Mavers was wrong in what he thought of it but, to my ears, “The La’s” is a masterpiece.

    Timeless Melody - https://youtu.be/1Cveh8ycOgA?si=3XK6CBZ6ow9gD0AE

  3. John Kongos is a singer and songwriter from South Africa. He had success there and in 1966 moved to England to further his career.  In 1971 he had two hit singles in the UK. These days he’s most famous for his first hit “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” (#4 UK in May 1971) which was covered (adapted ?) by Happy Mondays for their 1990 single “Step On”. I prefer his 2nd hit “Tokoloshe Man” (#4 UK in November 1971), a Tokoloshe being a mythical African beast that’s said to terrorise and eat people at night.

    Both of those singles are big beaty, rocked up dance numbers, proto-Glam rockers. I’d been keeping an eye out for both on 7” but although they are cheapies I never turned copies up. And then I came across this album and both songs are on it. “Tokoloshe Man” is that most important of songs, track 1 side 1, and “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” is the final track on the record.

    I have listened to the rest of it, once. Dull early seventies soft “rock” with not a hint of “Tokoloshe Man” or “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” and their meaty, beaty rhythms to be found anywhere. Not anything I ever wish to hear again. But for now I have both of those booming singles to hand whenever I need them.

    Tokoloshe Man - https://youtu.be/0dzxTcJX6QA?si=OKord-ihZphytvgS