Office Politics

By my reckoning we now have  the fifth Monkeys In Love full length after “Death Jeans”, “Will Pet and Cuddle You”, “Take The Biscuit”, and “Live in Stoke Newington”. It’s called “Monkeys In Love Are Ready For The Mountain”.  First thing to say is that, as usual, it’s excellent, and, as usual, it’s markedly different from what went before, a hallmark of the “Monkeys” approach.

The difference this time around is that the melodic hooks are not so overt. They are constructed to work seamlessly within the whole of a song rather than being a defined part that implies a change within the construct of a piece. There are trademark Monkey earworms in play but they take their time to sink in and lodge in your mind on the second or third listen. Musically there is some continuity across the ten songs giving an overall conceptual mood to the album as Steve narrates the story. The groups love of library and advertisement music is perhaps more palpable in these songs. In considering this release in the body of work as a whole, and specifically the preceding album, a comparison would be the difference between “Selling England by the Pound” and “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”, or, “The Who Sell Out” and “Tommy”, in that there is a more theatrical feel to this album than its predecessors.

The band introduce the album as follows:

The album features ten new songs that trace the nervous breakdown and eventual quasi-spiritual rebirth of a beleaguered office worker. Musically speaking, there’s a kind of mid-80s college rock thing going on in our sound this time round and although we’d love to say it was a deliberate artistic choice owing to the alarmingly mid-80s political climate of late, we can’t honestly remember if it was a conscious choice or not.

The band admit that production/recording is  “ever so slightly slicker on this album. It’s still pretty lo-fi, but a lot less lo-fi than previous releases“. The lyrics also follow up on a couple of songs from the previous album ‘Monkeys In Love Live In New Stoke Newington’, but the listener is left to work out which those songs are and how they relate to this album.

The line up for this release is

Danielle McCullough: guitar, flute, recorder and melodica
Eamonn Murphy: guitar, bass and FX
Laura Simms-Luddington: singing
Steve Simms-Luddington: singing, keys, programming and FX

The plan is to re-release the whole back catalogue so comparisons can be made with previous material for those jumping on at this stage. Steve promised me an out-takes/rarities album for German Shepherd a couple of years back – still looking forward to that!

Any how – quality stuff, wrap your ears around it.


No Lampshades Sold Here

A new album from the utterly fabulous Monkeys in Love.

Joy abounds.

It’s called “Live In New Stoke Newington” and to quote the band “It’s a non-linear concept LP about gentrification and that sort of thing”. It comprises nine tracks in total, all of them corkers. It’s not a live album, to make things clear.

The twin vocal line up of Laura and Steve, as usual, are the focus of matters. It’s relentless, enjoyable “alternative pop”, crammed with hooks and ear-worms, no doubt influenced, in part, by the bands’ love of library music. The easy narrative style is backed by  rolling and tumbling rhythms and jangling guitars topped off by cheeky little synths. It feels like all those great tunes that came with pre-millennial TV adverts mixed with superior song craft.


This is the Monkeys in Love sound growing into something new and reaching a maturity that was promised by their previous releases. The attention to detail and the honing of their music into quality product makes this their best work to date.

We kick off with the excellent “Infantalised Man” which puts a strong marker down for what is to follow, Laura pulls you in a with lovely melody, and Steve grabs you by the ears and shakes you around with his trademark  biting rap/rant vocalising.  “In Stoke Newington” is all 70s rhythms, think Norman Greenbaum backing Adam the Ants, fronted by The Carpenters, but fed through a blender to take it to a different time continuum

“Validate Me” is pure Monkeys, with Laura cracking up over the lyrics half way through, and sexy little synth arpeggiating in the background, with some beautifully placed drum drops. Pure pop heaven. “At New Vortex” is a tale of experiences in music/art venues which should be recognisable to those who have experienced the worst excesses of some performance spaces, a close neighbour, sonically, to Curved Airs seminal”Back Street Luv” the track is rich with lots of little musical tricks. Indifference and lack of wages is the bane of some of the best bands out there, this tune captures that sense of despair admirably.

The exceptional “Cocaine Radius” is the high point for me and feels like something from the 60s, dreamed up by Bert Bacharach, that would fit in with a hip road movie. Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, or someone of that ilk, driving around L.A. in fancy car, with the Mamas and Papas singing in the back seat, in a glorious sunset, came to mind as I was listening. The perfect placement of Danielle’s flute and Steve and Laura’s  vocals is simply glorious. At their best Monkeys in Love make me smile, and their very best they bring tears of joy to my eyes. This is one of the latter. Steely Dan were nearly as good as this once.

“Bar Furniture Solutions” allows Eamonn’s full guitar sound to take the lead, lyrically clearly the influence of listening to hours of corporate advertising music have had some influence, with the rolling narrative taking you on a journey around eponymous subject matter, and yes you can make a tale about bar furniture interesting. They don’t sell lampshades in this particular emporium apparently. Only this band can do this and make it something special.

Things get more serious with the heavier sound of “How The Scene Was Blown” which is insistent and the one track on the album which takes a little longer to get into, but once you are there it works. The sumptuous “Stasi Broke The Hive Mind” is back to Bacharach country, easy on the ear, and gentle on the mind.

Matters conclude with “New Stoke Newington Has Been Transformed” clocking in at just under six minutes it’s a memorable epic piece which requires a lot of attention to absorb the detailed narrative. The thing that captivates me about this album is the use of the vocals as instrumentation. Yes the lyrics, and there are plenty of them, are important, but just as vital is the placement of the vocals as part of the overall musical palette.  With no overall discernible lead instrument they take on a unique, non-traditional role in a rock ‘n’ roll context, which could be compared with the use of voices in classical operatic works as both vehicles of the narrative but also part of the complex interplay of instruments.

2016 has proved to be a year of excellent music and this is one of the high points. There was one front runner for album of the year before this arrived. There are now two.

If you get it before the release date on 25th November you can get it at a reduced price with some goodies thrown in – go here


Previous writing on this band can be found here and here and here


Album Of The Year?

Yes it’s that time again……and with it being a very busy year I thought i’d better prepare the long-list early on… in no particular order the candidates for this years “Best Of…..” not jazz albums… I’ll whittle it down to a top ten in due course, and I may well include some other ones I have missed and some things in the pipeline which look like they make the list.

There are a couple of very strong front-runners at the moment and after that it all gets a bit difficult…………

  • The Seven Twenty – The Seven Twenty
  • Niche – Heading East
  • Heroin In Tahiti – Sun and Violence
  • Dilly Dally – Sore
  • The Holy Soul – Fortean Times
  • Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek
  • The Lancashire Hustlers – What Made Him Run
  • Moff Skellington – Scribnalls
  • Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Just Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Think
  • Robert Forster – Songs To Play
  • Bouquet of Dead Crows – Of The Night
  • Dave Graney – Once I Loved The Oceans Roar
  • Monkeys In Love – Take The Biscuit
  • Corrections House – Know How To Carry A Wip
  • Esmerine – Lost Voices
  • Dead Sea Apes – Spectral Domain
  • Moff Skellington – The Corkscrew Tongue
  • Liberez – All Tense Now Lax
  • Vienna Ditto – Circle
  • JD Meatyard – Taking The Asylum
  • Ken Mode – Success
  • Dead to Dying World – Litany
  • Myrkur – M
  • The Creeping Ivies – Your New Favourite Garage Band
  • Ought – Sun Coming Down
  • Big Brave – Au De La
  • The Happy Fallen – Lost and Found
  • Cryin’ Queerwolf – Diva
  • Alif – Aynama -Rtama
  • Dave Graney ‘n’ The Coral Snakes – Night of the Wolverine  (Expanded)
  • ZX+ Don’t Drink The Water
  • Author & Punisher -Melk En Honing
  • Dave Graney & the mistLY – Play mistLY for me – live recordings vol 1
  • Flies On You – Etcetera
  • Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
  • The Go-Betweens – G stands for Go-Betweens : Volume One 1978-1984 (yes I know it’s a box set but it’s too good to ignore)
  • Moff Skellington – The Corduroy Bridge
  • The Fall – Sub Lingual Tablet
  • Minimi Deutsch – Minimi Deutsch
  • Anna Von Hauswolff – The Miraculous

100 not out

Various Artists


German Shepherd Records

30th October 2015


So let’s be clear from the outset, this is shameful nepotism of the highest order, but I can’t find anyone else willing to review it so I may as well take up the cudgels and have a go. Given I have a rather thorough inside perspective on this compilation, as I actually compiled it, I am in a position to be both honest and accurate, and perhaps somewhat effusive. If I am breaking some sort of record industry kayfabe by doing this so be it, but German Shepherd was set up to be doggedy (pun intended) independent, and to operate outside of the norms of the music biz, so in that spirit here goes.

Set up in February 2014 the label was originally intended as a vehicle for the work of co-owner Ian Moss, who had vast library of unreleased material he wanted to share with the world. Once word had got around about the endeavour other like minded souls expressed interest or were dragged into the inner circle of the label.

The manifesto is very simple, if the music that is offered to the label is sufficiently different and does not ape current trends and fads then it will probably find a home in the German Shepherd kennel.

21 months in and the chance to mark the milestone with some of the current and future artist on the label. Requests were sent out and a delightful pot-pourri of styles and genres emerged.

For German Shepherd virgins and, for those DJs who need accurate information(you know who you are), here’s a run down of all the tracks and the artists.

Loop-aznavour – theremin toting Loop, also a member of the remarkable Adventures of Salvador. offers a single from earlier in 2015, a remarkable distiller of styles and influences Loop is a captivating live performer and a consummate songwriter. From – Bury, Greater Manchester.

Pearl Divers ; the first band I ever “discovered” in radio land they have been through many line-up changes since 2009 but always centre around leader Carl Lingard. The tune on the album is a radical -reworking/second cousin to the bands “I Love The Music” – mixing Barryesque chords with a cold war soundscape one could, and should, argue that this would be a far better Bond theme than the odious one being used for the latest movie. The band are currently working on an album. From – Eccles/Irlam, Greater Manchester.

The Get – we love this band. They are great live, they write memorable songs, and they have a unique, sometimes unashamedly ramshackle sound. From – Bournemouth, Leigh on Sea etc, down south somewhere

Bouquet of Dead Crows – some folk will have been surprised about this band being on German Shepherd, one of aims is not to be complacent around what we are about,  dealing with any preconceptions of our mode of operation by throwing a curve ball in every now and then.  On first hearing, Bouquet of Dead Crows are conventional rockers, on deeper exploration the nuances emerge, from Toni Cooper’s excellent vocals, through the great rhythm section, to the multi-guitar talents of Neil Bruce. This is a band with a lot of depth. A single and cut from the new album “Of The Night” due out soon. From – Cambridge, east of Northampton.


Poppycock – working with Una Baines and her collective of musicians is always a pleasure and she offered up a live recording of the band from The Crescent in Salford. Recorded by Jim “Jedi” Watts, thus perpetuating the “every other musician you meet in Manc-land used to be in The Fall” myth this lovely tune first appeared on Una’s The Fates “Furia”  album. From: Manchester.

Franco Bandini – the buzz about Franco’s recent release of the label “2014 was a bad year” is increasing daily. Perhaps slightly less dark than the tracks on the EP this offering is from the same sessions and indicates his ability to create an epic sound. We predict great things. From –  Atherton/Manchester.

IKMRAO – the two label owners don’ t consider themselves to be musicians as such, they play with words and sounds and sometimes it comes out as music. Always making a point whenever they can this one has a much needed dig at the scenesters that hang around in clumps reeking of their own self-importance. From – Ashton Under Lyne/Eccles, Greater Manchester.

The Junta
The Junta

Captain Black – once a member of the aforementioned Pearl Divers and the main writer behind the much missed Positronik, Captain “Jeff” Black is adept at creating perfect pop tunes, and this is a sublime example. From : Swindon/Manchester

The Junta – it’s obligatory to say “aah yeah” or “shabba” at this point. Also once in Pearl Divers but now in Kit B, John “Monty” Montague brings an encyclopaedic knowledge of electronica  into play for  his tunes. Also a DJ on Salford City Radio Monty is a very busy chap. From : Salford, Greater Manchester.

Staggs – probably the most fascinating duo on the label in that they continually create tunes that both amaze and confound. Main vocal man Michael T Scott has a wonderfully acerbic outlook on the world at large. Music man Ridley is able re-invent well known sounds and turn them into something new. Staggs Disco is from one of their releases before they joined German Shepherd. Deserving of international acclaim I reckon. From –  Newcastle Upon Tyne,

Passage of Time – sounds influenced by 1969 Miles Davis together with more contemporary electronic textures. The closest thing to jazz on the label. From – Eccles, Salford. Greater Manchester.

Rose Niland and Mark Corrin
Rose Niland and Mark Corrin

Ion-Morph with three albums of the man’s spoken word releases on the label it would have been remiss to exclude a performance. The featured tune is a reworking of an old song and a hearful paean to Manc-land. From – Ashton-Under-Lyne

Moff Skellington – a genius, an iconoclast and a dealer in optical creosote. Moff creates music which defies description other than to say it hangs precariously between The Residents, Tom Waits, Pere Ubu, The Fall and Hank Marvin. His wordplay is completely unique, the aural equivalent of Salvador Dali.  As I may have said before, on many occasions, my crusade is to get him much more exposure and recognition. From – Abstercot

Rose Niland – we love Rose. She has a magical voice, she writes breathtaking tunes, and her words are memorable. Soulful, psychedelic and bluesy. From – Manchester

Monkeys In Love
Monkeys In Love

The Electric Cheese – captivating alternative rock with a unique sound. This trio is gaining a growing reputation as a must see live act. From their first EP with the label.  From – Chorley, Lancashire

West Coast Sick Line – Dusty Moonan, another genius, a man who can write memorable songs. The band has recently undergone a line-up change and the track on the compilation is an indication of things to come perhaps, a more powerful more rock oriented sound. New album “Europee” is imminent i.e. when they get out of the pub. From – Deganwy, North Wales

Monkeys In Love – a special band, they have been with the label from the start, helping and supporting. The track on the album is, dare I say it, one of their best yet. A remarkable live act and a lovely bunch of people. From – Manchester.

The track-listing

  1. Loop-aznavour – Ed’s Place
  2. Pearl Divers – Smoking Gun
  3. The Get – Say You Love Me
  4. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Just A Little More
  5. Poppycock – Ceaseless Effort
  6. Franco Bandini – Side B
  7. IKMRAO – Art
  8. Captain Black – Lost All Sense
  9. The Junta – Carnival 80
  10. Staggs – Staggs Disco
  11. Passage of Time – Round About Now
  12. Ion-Morph – Manchester (Slight Return)
  13. Moff Skellington – Potato Pickers
  14. Rose Niland – 5 Times
  15. The Electric Cheese – Gold Divers Under The Ice
  16. West Coast Sick Line – Best Lost In Translation
  17. Monkeys In Love – Installation Song #1

The album is a digital only release, is priced at £5, and all proceeds will go towards the Emmaus Homelessness Facility in Salford.

Bouquet of Dead Crows

The Studeo Articles #1 – Monkeys In Love

Following the decision to close the Studeo Blog I am copying over some the articles that appeared on that site. First up an overview and interview with Monkeys in Love which was originally published in November 2014.

Monkeys in Love are a rarity on the Greater Manchester music scene, their music and stage performances are unique, refreshing and highly entertaining. They do not sound or look like any other band you are likely to see.  Blending a theatrical flair in the visual department with an eclectic line-up and fascinating lyrics, they are one of the most important bands on the North West music scene at the moment.
Recent gigs outside of the Manchester area have begun to spread awareness about this exceptional group of musicians and writers. In a world of boring industry clones it is vital that we have bands like this one to offer variety and quality. Their live performances are always exciting, bordering on the anarchic, charmingly self-deprecating at times, but very enjoyable. Their releases to date have proved to be essential listening for lovers of fine music, and with a penchant for the quirky and imaginative, their next album is highly anticipated.
Lyrically the band focus on those things in everyday life that both frustrate and confuse, everything from gin in cans, via irritating behaviour in supermarket queues, to Rod Hull’s Emu are covered. The subject matter moves between the surreal and the every day with consummate ease.
Their music combines intricate beats, indie guitars and 60s space-age keyboards to create a whirlwind of memorable sounds. The occasional use of flute or recorder also gives them a different sonic palette to work from. The twin lead vocal line-up of the band allows for variety and creates a great aural and visual impact. The groups grasp of song dynamics, excellent riffs and chord sequences, and instantly memorable melodies, together with their theatrical performance values make them a must see band.
During a lull in the bands live activities, and with finishing touches being put to a new album,  I took the opportunity to ask the bands’ founder Steve Simms-Luddington a few questions about how they formed, their influences, and their plans for the future.
Who is in the band – what do they play – were they in any other bands before or since?
On bass… Chris Binks
On guitar, woodwinds and stylophone… Danielle McCullough
On guitar… Eamonn Murphy
On singing… Laura Simms-Luddington
And skulking at the back, trying to look useful… me  (Steve actually plays keyboards, controls the drum machines and is the joint lead vocalist with Laura)
In addition, Andy Robertson sometimes plays percussion for us, but usually only in the studio.
Most of us have played in bands before, but they were not as fun as this one, except in Andy’s case, ‘cos he’s got a band going on where gets to sing and play guitar, which is obviously a lot more fun than shaking a tambourine.
When did you start the band?
I started Monkeys In Love nearly ten years ago and Laura joined me a few months later, after a chance encounter at a rave in a disused mental asylum. It was pretty much just us and a drum machine in those days and I suspect it probably wasn’t that great , we were usually pretty drunk when we played, so I’ve no idea. Over the next few years, Eamonn joined, then Chris and finally Danielle and I think that was the point when we went from messing around and occasionally playing gigs to actually being a band. So in a way, we’ve only really been going for about four years or so.
What have you released to date – and what have you got planned for the future?
We released a mini album through a local indie label a couple of years ago, which was called Death Jeans,  and then we put out our first full length album The Monkeys In Love Will Pet And Cuddle You on our own label the following year. After that, we recorded a bunch of tracks for an EP , which is now available on Soundcloud, and a couple of those tracks have been re-recorded for our next full length album, which is titled The Monkeys In Love Take The Biscuit. After that there’s also our long-delayed split EP with our friends Werbeniuk (due out in April, I think) and a top secret digital EP that I’m not allowed to talk about just yet, which is coming out whenever it’s ready. If the wind’s fair, there might also be another mini album coming out next autumn or fairly soon after that.
Where do you get your ideas for the on-stage costumes – who makes them?
Laura makes the costumes and comes up with the majority of the ideas for them and the same goes for the slide projections and any other assorted stage props. Occasionally, the rest of us might make a few suggestions, but at least 90% of the time they come from her fevered imagination. They’re usually based on or related to our lyrics, although sometimes it might not necessarily seem that way at first glance.
What or who influences the band musically?
As far as I’m aware, we all like Stereolab , The Fall, Kim Deal,  Serge Gainsbourg, strange 60s/70s library & soundtrack music, a couple of us are on the Trunk Records mailing list, Black Sabbath, Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine, Board of Canada, krautrock and so on. As for individual members of the band some favourites are as follows:
  • Chris: Slint and The Wipers
  • Danielle: Human League and Iron Monkeys
  • Eamonn: Bo Diddley and White Fence
  • Laura: Devo and Crowded House
  • Steve: Slapp Happy and Jane Birkin in the 70s
Any gigs planned?
We’re playing with Taser Puppets and Salford Media City at the Crescent in Salford on 29th November and there’ll be a launch party for the new album on February 6th at Gulliver’s in Manchester. After that, I imagine there’ll be a bit of a tour in the spring, although we haven’t actually booked any dates as yet.
Which current bands on the Manchester scene would you recommend?
I’m not going to list bands in case we forget anyone, or deliberately don’t include someone, and they get offended, but our favourite band that we’ve seen playing in Manchester of late was West Coast Sickline.
Some of your lyrics dwell on the darker side of suburban life – do you agree?
I’d say some of them do, yeah. That said, I can only think of one song on the new album that fits that description. There’s even a song where, if only for a moment, we eschew our trademark flippancy for something close to genuine emotion. A real “hearts on our sleeves” moment. I kid you not. But the rest are pretty snidey thistime round. We’ve got a few axes to grind. Our half of the split EP, and the mini album that follows on from it will be a bit more suburban, though.
A companion podcast to this interview with music from Monkeys In Love and the bands mentioned above is available here

Biscuits, Retaliation and Social Media in the First World

Monkeys In Love

Take the Biscuit

VPL Records

9 February 2015


The third full length release from Monkeys In Love leaps out of the speakers, grabs you by the ears, and shakes you about a bit, until you are leaping around in untrammelled abandon to their unique and rather memorable take on popular music.

Two years in the making, the collection of 10 songs is well worth the wait since the excellent “Will Pet And Cuddle You”. The overall feel of the collection is best described as “joyous”. The attention to detail in production, in essence why it has taken so long to get it out to the masses, makes for their best recorded work to date. The individual elements of the quintet’s musicianship is allowed to shine and Steve and Laura’s vocals have never been clearer.

MIL messing about

As usual with the band the styles are mixed up  and we get everything from driven post-punk, through psyche fuzz, a touch of krautrock, via lounge jazz to dreamy french pop sounds. More importantly, and as ably demonstrated by the opening title track, there is fully formed “Monkeys In Love” sound which is both infectious and unique, combining a number of disparate elements to deliver a refreshing sound.

To some degree the second track “Circle of Jerks” , previously available on the stop-gap EP from 2013, harks back to previous releases with it’s rolling guitar and “Yes Wave” sound. It moves, in a sprightly fashion, to the defiant “First World Crisis”, which mixes anglo-centric vocalising with swirling synth bubbles and a martial drumming.  Short, sharp and sweet. The also previously released “In Comics Sans” is pure “Monkeys” , Danielle follows Laura’ vocal on the flute, Eamonn works his way through some interesting chord changes and the whole thing is progressive but in post-punk sense . Steve brings in a light keyboard touch towards the end and the guitars get a bit more intense which provides for a triumphant conclusion.


From here onwards in things get a little more, let’s say, heavy, with a focus on the north London suburb of Stoke Newington before settling down to the jazzy lounge vibe of “Pina Colada In A Can” which continues a degree of conceptual continuity from the “Death Jeans” album (i.e. Gin In A Can). However there are some interesting things going on here. The ominipresent cocktail party chat, the atonal middle eight  sections and coda with viseceral synth sounds and off kilter guitar noises and the collapse into avant garde at the end are excellent.  “47 Baked Potatoes” adopts dreamy french pop and indie chords with a Burt Bacharach sensibility to create one of the high-points of the album. Laura’s delicate vocal on this track is both a revelation and an affirmation of her abilties, both fragile and poignant.

“Confusing Instagram” builds on a riff in the best traditions of English “Underground” music, adds synths in the spirit of the pioneers of electronic music, and deals in stately repetition in hommage to the best of post-punk. The new golden age of social media is both hailed and parodied.


The revelation of the album comes via the closing two tracks. Monkeys in Love fans are in for a bit of a suprise with the rich and complex “Evil Boots” and the riff-tastic “Prendiamo Il Biscotto In Rappresaglia Seq 3”.   Both tracks are stunning and offer a previously unheard side of of the MIL sound. The last track is part of a sequence of tunes, the first part of which was captured live recently and did not make it onto the album.

 In summary, the Monkeys In Love team have delivered their best work to date, rich, varied, intriguing and exciting.

The band launch the album at Gullivers NQ, Manchester on Friday 6th February with special guests The Hamsters and Taser Puppets. One for your diary.

The album will be available via the bands website.




Recent Interview With The Band

To Hull And Back……………..

After a disappointing day at the nexus of cricket (a cold cold breeze, heavy rain, and painfully slow scoring) a trip up the M61 to see some “rock and roll” seemed like a damn good plan for a Friday night.

Dusty Moonan
Dusty Moonan

Of course I had forgotten the mysteries of the roundabouts of Chorley and their tendency to draw one Brigadoon like into strange places like abandoned lorry parks (the lorries being abandoned and not the parks) and Aldi Supermarket complexes. Despite a detailed study of Google Maps the additional extra roundabout paradigm had me driving round in circles for a good 15 minutes. However I eventually managed to find the delightfully named “Stump Lane” and then move with some trepidation onto Friday Street and thenceforth to Steeley Lane wherein nestles the excellent public house known as The Railway. I am always somewhat foxed by the pub as it’s never on the side of the street I expect it to be on. This probably says more about me than the topography of Chorley mind you.

The pub is reasonably full and nice and warm on a cold night as the last vestiges of a long winter splutter into the dark sky. There is always a welcoming atmosphere at The Railway and despite the “stage area” being on the direct line of site route between the bar and the Toilets/Smoking Zone it is always a good place to catch a live band or three.

The bill of fair tonight is wandering troubadour Dusty Moonan (Colwyn Bay), the eclectic and rather charming Monkeys In Love (Levenshulme)  and local heroes Taser Puppets (Chorley). After a swift of half fizzy non-alcoholic brown stuff (don’t drink and drive kids especially when you have to negotiate phantom roundabouts)  we are treated to a twenty minute set from Mr  Moonan who is in an affable frame of mind – a couple of his own tunes including the delightful “This Ain’t London” and a few covers including “Trumpton Riots” and “Come Up and See Me Make Me Smile” – during the middle of which Dusty takes an impromptu lager break demonstrated the chaps ability to warm up an audience with his bonhomie and self-effacing performance style. I can’t help thinking that with a full band Mr Moonan’s rather marvellous songs would be something special indeed. Anyway he gets on well with the crowd and receives warm applause.

Colleen McCullough
Danielle McCullough

The first time I saw Monkeys in Love was at the Verge in Hyde last year where their backing tracks didn’t quite make it through the fog of the PA. Fortunately this time the sound was as near perfect as possible. Singer Laura is suffering with a nasty ear ailment at the moment so we were not sure whether she would be able to deliver to her best – however fears were unfounded as we got an excellent performance from the band.

With some of the stand out tracks from the album “Monkeys in Love will Pet and Cuddle You” it’s an excellent set including a marvellous performance of “The Man In The Keith Moon T- Shirt” including some rather lovely flute from Danielle McCullough. The crowd warm to the infectious, catchy and danceable tunes from this unique and impressive band. “Gin In A Can” goes down well (see what I did there) and the very moreish “Owl With Hands” has people smiling. The terrace chant of “Oh Judy” evokes the best of 70s pop whilst managing to be utterly modern.

Matters are drawn to a close with the surreal appearance of the new “costume” – a giant representation of Rod Hull – who appeared to be in need of a serious haircut. Laura is soon out amongst the crowd with a very friendly mini-Emu who tends to nibble the neck rather than grab the groin. Several punters walking into the pub at this point in time must have wondered what they had wandered into – the “Monkeys” grasp of song dynamics, excellent riffing , and instantly memorable melodies together with the theatrical performance values (think 1972 Genesis without the prog and with some punk aesthetic and you are getting close) make them a must see band.

Shaun Maxwell

Top of the bill are the very excellent Taser Puppets – this must be about the fifth time I’ve seen then and they continue to impress and improve. Unfortunately with an early start in the morning I have to slip away half way through the set but the part of it I caught was excellent. With bravura performances of “The Wrestler” , “Wasp”, “Man-Trap” and the stunning “Beautiful Song for The Ripper” the question has to be asked as to why this rather talented trio is not more universally regarded. Despite Shaun having to sit through the set due to his gammy leg he delivered on all levels and Jason and Terry have to be one of the best rhythm sections around at the moment.

So I slip away into the night and along the dark corridor of the M61 and back to the peoples republic having had a rather fine time with some excellent musicians delivering top quality music. As I dodged the lorries en route I reflected on the evening and concluded that the future survival  of music and pubs are inextricably linked, and the longevity of both depends on their mutual co-existence. If The Railway and these three artists are anything to go by then the future is bright. Why would you pay £35 or more in a stadium to watch a distant figure through an overloud PA when you can enjoy the warmth and atmosphere of your local pub with quality artists?

Dusty Moonan has a new album out called “Our Name On The Door” which you can acquire free from Bandcamp. Monkeys in Love’s new album “Monkey in Love with Pet and Cuddle You” is available from their website. Taser Puppets have a new EP out soon called “Fuzzy Felt”.

Monkey Business with Rod
Monkey Business with Rod