|Midnite Mixtape Massacre - Tom Spencer (Hired Gun And All Round Nice Guy)|
|Written by Tom Spencer|
|Sunday, 15 January 2017 04:30|
If you are a regular reader of the Über Rock pages you must surely have heard the name Tom Spencer mentioned once or twice. Frontman of The Loyalties, Danny McCormack's sidekick in The Yo-Yos and currently standing in for Jonesy in the bleedin' Professionals, you could say the man has the full rock 'n' roll credentials. From his humble beginnings in Big Boy Tomato, onto Sugarsnatch and The Lurkers, he can also be seen playing with the likes of The Urban Voodoo Machine and The Men They Couldn't Hang in his spare time these days.
Über Rock cornered Tom at a recent Urban Voodoo Machine gig in York and planted the seed for a future Mixtape. Always a busy man, Tom came through with the goods recently and gave us 13 tracks that influenced him and made him do what he does today.
So, over to Tom for the lowdown.
I've never sat down and thought through my desert island discs, although I'm a fan of the programme. Always thought how hard it would be to condense it down to eight tracks. Hopefully thirteen will be easier. I'm writing this without any for thought, sat in a band bus (with The Men They Couldn't Hang) after playing a festival in Jedburgh. Just shoved the stinking, up all night singer though the departures doors at Newcastle airport. I guess that gives me a fair few hours until I'm back in London Town.
1. 'Kid' - The Pretenders (from the self-titled album)
Loved the Pretenders, loved Chrissie Hynde as a teenager. Of all their songs, it had to be this one. My favourite guitar solo ever recorded. Apparently it was a first take in the studio. James Honeyman-Scott died of an overdose a few years afterwards, what a waste of a brilliant talent. Can I play it? Of course I can. Could I have come up with it and recorded it first take? Not in a million years.
2. 'Runaway Boys' - The Stray Cats (from the self-titled album)
My dad was a musician, so I had his record collection to plough through. I was already well into all the Sun stuff before I heard this single. It blew me away. The whole first album is perfect. Later albums, they become more straight rockabilly but this track (and album) captures the punk spirit and the fact they had to come to the UK to make it. Some credit has to go Dave Edmonds for producing it, or more importantly not over-producing it.
3. 'God Save The Queen' - The Sex Pistols (from the album 'Never Mind The Bollocks')
My dad bought this album, hated it and gave it to me: "I want a guitar, I want to look like that, I want to be like that and I want a band!" Picked this track as I remember the controversy, it being the Silver Jubilee year. At school they were making us gear up for the celebrations. I had to paint a big golden coach for the wall. Then seeing the Jamie Reid artwork for the first time, the queen, safety pin through the nose. Now I'm playing with Paul Cook in The Professionals. Lucky me!
4. 'Love Song' - The Damned (from the album 'Machine Gun Etiquette')
Again, I'm picking one of my favourite songs from a band that meant a lot to me. Could've been 'Smash It Up' or 'New Rose' from the album before. I used to go and see them as a 14 year old punk, got served at the bar too, no ID bollocks. Another band that made me want to be in one. Great to see them sell out The Royal Albert Hall recently… a bit bigger than the old Clarendon.
5. 'Denis' - Blondie (from the album 'Plastic Letters')
I (like half the world) fell in love with Debbie Harry after seeing her on Top of the Pops doing this. I was only about 10, so it was more of a crush. I went to see them at Hammersmith Odeon with my mum as a chaperone. Still have the big programme, badge and ticket.
6. 'One More Whisky' - John B Spencer
I had to put a track of my dad’s on this list. Him being a musician was definitely an influence. I used to jump up and sing backing vocals at gigs when I was about 13. I toured with him in my early 2000's. He died in 2002 aged only 56. Playing his music helped me get through it. Me and my brothers have a band, Fastlane Roogalator, where we gather musician mates to play his songs, usually for a cancer charity. We've made a couple of albums.
7. 'Too Much Too Young' - The Specials (from the self-titled album)
Great band, but I never saw them live. Madness used to do under 16 gigs that I went to. I loved the lyrics on this track, then ended up as a dad at 21. I've never spread manure in a bed of roses though!
8. 'Sod The Neighbours' - The Toy Dolls (from the album 'Absurd-Ditties')
In '93 my band Big Boy Tomato landed the support slot on a Toy Dolls European tour. We, like most people in the UK, thought they'd vanished after their version of 'Nelly The Elephant' - They only had from the UK to avoid a right wing following (due to being put on an 'Oi' compilation). They have a massive following worldwide. We all fell in love with the band on the tour, music that makes you smile and dance daftly. My 2 year old goes nuts when I put it on. My older kids used to do the same. I met Danny McCormack whilst we were both singing backing vocals on their 'One More Megabyte' album. We formed The Yo-Yos on the drive back to London (from Hull). Olga then guested on our album 'Uppers and Downers'. He's some guitarist!!
9. 'Sun Sessions' - Elvis
Just brilliance happening live, with a mic dangling in a room, a moment in time captured. Really couldn't pick out a track, it's the whole thing. It's my (and I'm sure a load of other peoples) musical time travel moment - imagine being there in the control room? I often know when music’ special by the hairs standing up on my arms. I reckon I would have shed the lot had I been there. Scotty Moore RIP. The singer wasn't too bad either!
10. 'Tomorrow, Wendy' - Concrete Blonde (from the album 'Bloodletting')
Johnette sang backing vocals for a band I was in called Motherhive. She was friends with our main man and singer Andy Overall. Their ridiculously good voices sounded great together. I then went to The Garage to see Concrete Blonde. This would be about 1990. They were great, when they played 'Tomorrow, Wendy' it blew me away. Slow, powerful and a reminder of the impact AIDS had on us all. It's the last track on the 'Bloodletting' album and is a total example of the hairs on arms standing up music test I mentioned above.
11. 'Ace Of Spades' - Motörhead (from the album 'Ace Of Spades')
The only metal band punks were allowed to like. Of course now everyone can like anything, but it used to be more territorial. Every time I've seen Motörhead, I always think every track is this one, until it turns out not to be. When I was 15 I worked as an usher at Hammersmith Odeon. They gave staff cotton wool for their ears, of course I didn't use it! These were the gigs where the Bomber lighting rig was stolen from. I also remember having to clear up pints of biker piss from the bar at the end.
12. 'Suffragette City' - David Bowie (from the album 'The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars')
I'd seen Bowie a couple of times when he still never went back over old material - just kept moving on. Then, just after Tin Machine I heard about a short notice (secret?) gig at the Hanover Grand. He wandered onto the stage to a half empty room and did all the old stuff, even 'All The Young Dudes'. I'd been worrying about smoking making me lose my voice on tour. He chain smoked Marlboro lights throughout the gig, I still do! By the end of the gig, it was packed as word had got out. But the second half was experimental dancy bollocks, so I went to the pub.
13. 'I'll Come Running' - The Murder City Devils (from the album 'In Name And Blood')
A Neil Diamond cover. This became a Yo-Yos van favourite when we toured the US. Sub Pop bought us our own van, which we ruined - blood, cum, and shite - another story not for here! The Murder City Devils travelled in their own bus, apart from one drive when theirs broke. They were truly revolted at our body fluid decorating techniques. The last show of the tour we learnt 'I'll Come Running' and invited Spence, their singer, up. He had no idea, said he'd only sung it once in the studio from a lyric sheet. I guess for them it was an album filler, but it's such a beautiful cover. It has such an air of desperation about it. Completely heart breaking.
There you go. Of course, now I've finished I can think of more and I'm doubting some of my choices. Where are all the black singers I love, and the blues men? Where's The Who, The Beatles and The Stones? Why have I stopped at the year 2000? Has nothing moved me since? Of course it has, but, as I said at the beginning, I've just let it flow. The only way I could ever get it done!