The Dead 60s
About the Gig
To celebrate the official opening of the new Fred Perry Laurel shop on Newburgh Street in London, one of the most exciting new bands of 2005 - The Dead 60s - played a one off guerilla gig. Hundreds of fans packed the street to listen to The Dead 60's play preview tracks from their eagerly awaited new album - The Dead 60s. It was obvious that the lads were really up for the gig and this translated into a street party outside. As Bryan Johnson their drummer said "I'm still buzzing from that" - and that was half an hour after the gig ended!
Their debut album has been named album of the week on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show and XFM's Music Response and they are definitely, definitely worth catching live if you get the chance.
If the resurgent British rock scene of the last twelve months has given us plenty to celebrate, it has also been lacking one vital element: a band young, smart and articulate enough to genuinely reflect the look and and feel of life in the UK as we enter mid-decade. A group who can hard-wire the paranoid skank of A Certain Ratio, the social awareness of The Clash and still have razor-creases in their sta-press whilst they do it.
Time to meet The Dead 60s (Matt McManamon: guitar/vocals, Ben Gordon: guitar/organ, Charlie Turner: bass, Bryan Johnson: drums). They're from Liverpool, but crucially, they don't have to be. Rather than trawl through the typically rizzla-heavy 'vibes' of The La's, Love and Beefheart for inspiration (the name is a dig at the Mersey seal of approval "you sound dead 60s"), they will happily namecheck anyone with an eye for the dancefloor, regardless of age or era.
Expect to hear traces of everything from Desmond Dekker, The Skatalites, Lee 'Scratch' Perry to Public Image Ltd, Happy Mondays and The Cure. Lyrically, like The Specials before them, they deliver a pin-sharp commentary on the world around them; a country where city centres have become boozy no-go zones after dark, deserted but for whirring CCTV's; where new towns breed discontent and even a walk home from the pub carries with it the ever-present threat of danger. The result is a group set to provoke and excite in equal measure. If the spook-core skank of first single 'You’re Not The Law' first displayed their trademark 'horrorshow ska', it was Top 20 follow-up 'Riot Radio' which suggested The '60s' were set for, erm, ska-dom. Two minutes and twenty-two seconds of seriously infectious agit-pop. It wasn't so much an incitement to violence as a celebration of drummer Bryan's spoof phone calls to local radio legend Pete Price. As well as earning them an NME Single of the Week ("a slam bang-up-to-date rendering of ska, Franz Ferdinand and King Tubby") it also brought the band to the attention of a certain Stephen Morrissey.
Next thing, the band were packing their Fred Perry's for touring duties with Moz. "Although he personally selected us for the tour, we never got to meet him" muses Charlie. "Though I did see him peaking around the stage curtain at us a couple of times!" Amidst the sirens and the rhythm of the falling rain there are moments of genuine gruff dance-floor genius too. If 'Control This' and 'Loaded Gun' reflect the jittery punk-funk throb of the early Mondays, the real pay-off comes with 'Nowhere'; a gothic, spliff-at-midnight mantra. It's an indication that The Dead 60s have the capacity to document city life for years to come. Thirteen razor-cut songs aimed at both the head and the feet. Thirteen songs which stand head and shoulders above their peers and serve as proof that observation of life's bitterest pills often brings the most valuable rewards.
The Dead 60s @ The Astoria
The Dead 60s are magnificent live. There's this combination of the anthemic, fast-paced tunes and the eerie, swirling keyboards all mixed with contemplative smoking-room dub that is not only instantly listenable, but also interesting.
All the singles got an airing, with the kids going absolutely mental for "You’re not the Law" and "Riot Radio", similarly with "Last Resort" and "Ghostfaced Killer" (sadly nothing to do with the rapper) during the encore. The Dead 60s sound and stage show had matured beyond belief in a year. The verdict? Go see the Dead 60s, they might just surprise you.
The Dead 60s - Stand Up (7/10)
Liverpool's music scene will always be remembered for being the place that birthed The Beatles; it's hard to imagine anyone else coming along and taking that stature from them. When you take for instance The Beatles music and you compare it to modern efforts, say for example The Dead 60's, lots of things have changed.
Both bands have very many differences, maybe even too many but one of their really few similarities is that they are both pretty special, in their own ways; both bands overflowing with innovation, character and potential, evident in their music.
The Dead 60's are exceptional in their own right and 'Stand Up' is clearly testament to that. This band could be the next big thing to come out of Liverpool, and could make a prominent mark on the British Indie scene. A good song indicating the sizeable potential this band has at their discretion.