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Rock and Blues Weekend, Butlins, Skegness. 25-27.1.13

Sunday night. The final countdown!  The Blues Band are first. Opening with ‘Before you accuse me’, early songs  ‘Can’t be satisfied’ and ‘Noah Lewis Blues’ are good, Tom and Gary get a turn nowadays but it starts to get a bit sedate. Mention of Chuck Berry livens things up and ‘Maggie’s Farm’ is a good finish.               The next lot are what I came for. Blue Coupe  An opening tease from ‘(Don’t fear) the reaper’ and we are in for a Blue Oyster Cult and Alice Cooper onslaught. ‘Cities on flame’, ‘Burnin’ for you’, ’18′ and ‘Under my wheels’ all get an airing , as do a couple of Coupe numbers.   Then, a split second of silence coincides with her Ladyship emptying her lungs and bellowing ‘GodzillaaaAAAAAH!. Sure enough, Dennis gives us the Public Health warning, Albert’s bass drum kicks in, and then we get THAT riff. I don’t know if the riff or the title came first, but it’s an inspired wedding. And beware, once heard you won’t get a full night’s sleep now, it will be pulsing through your temples!  Black Sabbath would definitely have sold their souls for that riff.  The sight of a 65 year old Albert Bouchard tearing around stage in his Godzilla mask is amazing, and the 3 of them have a combined age of nigh on 200!  There is only Simon from the Hot Rods who is even in Albert’s league, both of them sing too. We get ‘School’s out’ and ‘Reaper’, with Joe Bouchard playing a sole Telecaster as opposed to the big production values on the original. The old live favourite, the MC5′s ‘Kick out the jams’, meant that blood seemed to pouring from every orifice in my head, but they were absolutely great.  This is one group whom I have no objection to being part of Mr Barton’s agency…bring ‘em back!             Last up are Dr Feelgood. Hardy annuals, I missed the first few numbers but got there for ‘Alcohol’, ‘Doctors’, ‘Quits’, ‘Wind up’ and the final flourish of Wilko songs.

And that was it.  The best R n B for some time. Check out previous posting for other comments and photos.

Most Wonderful Moment Award  ‘Godzilla’, by Blue Coupe. Her Ladyship had an attack of the vapours.

Live at the Marton

Where Worlds Collide

Blue Coupe, The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury.

Albert Bouchard of Blue Coupe at The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury

Blue Coupe comprise the brothers Joe and Albert Bouchard, the original rhythm section from the classic lineup of Blue Öyster Cult, and Dennis Dunaway, one time bassist for Alice Cooper. They’re a power trio, with Joe swapping the bass for his original instrument, the guitar.

I only got to hear about their “Hot Rails to Hull” UK tour at very short notice, and with a somewhat strange tour itinerary concentrating on the north and the midlands, with no shows in any major cities. Their appearance at The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury was the closest they came to me.

The Mill is a great venue; as the name suggests it’s a former mill converted into a modern multi-purpose arts centre, a quite different sort of environment compared with the more typical grungy rock club. No sticky floors here, although the bar did stock some excellent local real ales. While not full, they pulled a fair-sized crowd for a Thursday night, on a tour that saw some gigs sold out, while others were cancelled due to lack of ticket sales.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect; Blue Öyster Cult were known for their multi-layered sound and I did wonder how well a three piece band would do the material justice. The start was a tease, opening with distinctive byrds-like guitar figure of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” before launching into the Alice Cooper hit “Elected”. What followed was a mix of BÖC and Alice Cooper standards, with an early highlight being Albert’s signature tune “Cities of Flame”, which saw Joe go walkabout in the crowd during his extended solo.

Joe Bouchard of Blue Coupe at The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury

Joe’s guitar playing made a very strong impression. His playing filled a lot of space, especially when you consider than many BÖC standards had two or sometimes three guitar parts, and he more than did Buck Dharma’s original lead guitar parts justice. Bassist Dennis Dunaway threw most of the rock shapes, while Albert seemed to be enjoying himself a lot on drums; with a far stronger stage presence than most rock drummers. The whole thing was very rock and roll, playing raw, stipped-down garage-style versions of some much loved songs.

All three shared vocals, with Joe Bouchard perhaps singing the lion’s share of lead vocals, while Dennis Dunaway did most of the song introductions. From where I was standing the vocals, especially Joe’s, got lost in the mix at times, which was one flaw in an otherwise great gig.

It wasn’t all oldies, as they threw in a few new songs for good measure. “Dark Boat” from one of Joe’s solo albums was particularly memorable, and they actually have a song called “More Cowbell”. The new material stands up well alongside the old, and marked them out as something far more than a mere nostalgia act, rather a band who still have something to say.

Dennis Dunaway of Blue Coupe at The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury

They ended the set with the biggest hits. First Godzilla (“Oh No! There goes Tokyo!”) with first a bass solo, then Albert going walkabout, drumming on the floor, the PA stack, the curtains(!) and finally returning to his kit for an actual drum solo, which, as drum solos go, has to be one of the more entertaining ones. Then it was “School’s Out”, and finally, after that tease at the very beginning, “Don’t Fear The Reaper”. They came back for no fewer than three encores, including a superb take on The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues”, a song frequently covered in BÖC days, and of course, “Hot Rails To Hell”, before ending with “Under My Wheels”.

It’s a feature of today’s classic rock scene that some of the people who once played stadiums are now playing small venues in the most un-rock’n'roll of towns. But bands like Blue Coupe have still got it, and can still put on a great show. They’ve promised they’ll be returning to the UK, and when they do, go and see them. You won’t be disappointed.

THE GREAT BRITISH ROCK AND BLUES FESTIVAL - Live at Butlins, Skegness (UK) 25-27 January 2013

Über Rock

For the second year running I had to miss out on the wonderful talents of Steve Cropper and the Animals And Friends as they clashed with Blue Coupe who I simply wasn't going to miss, largely because they feature the Bouchard brothers Joe and Albert, from one of my all time favourite bands Blue Oyster Cult, plus Dennis Dunaway from the classic Alice Cooper band of the seventies. Blue Coupe played with a garage New York punky edge, a little rough and raw around the edges but the music was compelling. Early BOC treats were belted out such as 'The Red & The Black' and 'Cities On Flames With Rock 'n’ Roll’. Dennis Dunaway looked like he was from another planet, an alien version of a grasshopper that made full use of every inch of the stage. Cooper's 'I'm Eighteen' had the BOC treatment and the Dunaway penned 'Under My Wheels' was a crunching joy. Albert Bouchard is a great drummer trashing away on his kit and putting on a child's dinosaur mask for 'Godzilla'. 'Don't Fear The Reaper',' School's Out' and 'Kick Out The Jams' rounded off this monstrous set.

 

After the set I got an old poster of Blue Oyster Cult signed by the Bouchard brothers, which I already had signed before by the remaining members a few years previous...At last I had the full set, I was one very happy bunny and for me the night was over, so I returned to my room so I didn't run the risk of damaging my prized asset.

Classic Rock Magazine Presents AOR Issue 9

Blue Coupe

Million Miles More

Reborn to Be Wild

A mightily impressive follow-up to 2010's debut album Tornado on the Tracks, Million Miles More finds this talented trio (numbering Albert and Joe Bouchard from Blue Oyster Cult and former Alice Cooper bassist Dennis Dunaway) coming up trumps. Opening with the Who-flavored Prophets Dukes and Nomads, it refreshes with it's intelligent rock, clever lyrics and masterful hooks. BOC's Buck Dharma pops up on Hellfire Hurry while Alice Cooper snarls eerily on Hallows Grave. Joe Bouchard's moving Everybody Goes Insane is a natural follow-up to BOC's Morning Final. Manitoba's Ross the Boss, meanwhile, stamps his authority on Ain't Dead. Albert Bouchard has his toungue in his cheek with Born to Be Wild/homage Ride With Me and Dunaway must take a bow for Devil's Highway, an Alice-esque monster.

(9 stars out of 10)

Universal Wheels

The second album from the classic rock trio of Albert & Joe Bouchard [Blue Oyster Cult] and Dennis Dunaway [Alice Cooper].   As good as the debut album was - this album is even better.   Stronger songs, more instrumentation, numerous guests, and solid production, heck - even Jack Douglas is here as executive producer!

This album has some standout hard rockers with tracks like -- "Hellfire Hurry", and with Buck Dharma on guitar - it's a classic early BOC styled fast rocker, "Ain't Dead", and the anthemic fave song here - "Devil's Highway", with it's classic driving riff, cowbell, and even a reference to 'the reaper' - make it somewhat offspring of BOC's "Don't Fear The Reaper".  The majority of this disc is the band's unique mix of rock with harmonies, stories, and often haunting melodies, so reminiscent of 70s BOC, and plenty of memorable songs such as "Everybody Goes Insane", "Train Of Thought", "Prophets, Dukes, and Nomads", and my other fave tune here - "Used Car", penned by Bouchard friend John Elwood Cook,  (and featuring blues-man Giles Robson on harmonica). Cook also contributed the old school straight ahead rocker "Modern Love (Stalking Time)", which features Goldy McJohn [ex Steppenwolf] on keyboards. Other classic tunes here include the very different and creepy rocker "Hallow's Grave" with Alice Cooper singing lead, and Dennis Dunaway's touching piano ballad "I'll Forever Stick Around".   Highly recommended classic rock! and these guys are a great live act - check 'em out! 

To add....I saw Blue Coupe in Hamilton, Ontario recently. Another visit to This Ain't Hollywood [about the 4th time i've seen them there].... A great, lengthy set of classic tunes Starting off with album rocker "Devil's Highway", and going on to include plenty of classic BOC and Alice Cooper, as well as a good half of the band's new album, a classic from their first album, and a few surprises. Highlights included a piano & vocal version of BOC gem "Joan Crawford" - in honor of late BOC fouding member Allen Lanier, as well as new classic "Hallow's Grave" - a song performed by Alice Cooper on the CD, but sounded great with Joe on vocals and enhanced by Dennis Dunaway's pre song explanation. A lengthy encore included guitarists Andrew Aldridge and Gord Lewis [ex Teenage Head], as well as singer Nick Sinipoli all joining in at various points [near the end of the set and into the encore] - and doing a few classic AC tunes [Caught In A Dream, Be My Lover, Under My Wheels], before ending with BOC's "Don't Fear The Reaper" and Teenage Head's "Let's Shake" [w/ Lou Molinaro on vocals].

Classic Rock Magazine

Blue Coupe

Million Miles More CD BABY Trio of 70s masters mixed by Jack Douglas and Warren Huart.

Inexplicably unsung in these islands, Blue Coupe (a veritable supergroup featuring Blue Öyster Cult’s Bouchard brothers – Joe and Albert – alongside former Alice Cooper group bass player Dennis Dunaway) picked up multiple Grammy nominations for 2011’s Tornado On The Tracks album. Million Miles More, meanwhile, is blessed with further unimpeachable examples of hook-driven sonic swagger with a vintage sound clearly forged in the early-70s hard-rock crucible.

The core trio’s intuitively dynamic, gang-vocal chutzpah invariably evokes images of Ripple Wine-fisted muscle-car jockeys carelessly barrelling down the two-lane blacktop from delinquency to Palookaville, but when spurred on from the backseat by such guests as Ross The Boss, Tish & Snooky, Buck Dharma and the unmistakable Coop himself (lead vocalist on Hallow’s Grave — with its disconcerting, stuttering beat and characteristically macabre lyric), Blue Coupe prove to be reliable masters of their chosen craft. ■■■■■■■■■■

Ian Fortnam

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