Monday, 29 October 2007

Going to the go-go, checking out those mini skirt blues

Last one for today (I reckon I've covered a week of catching up, there) - tomorrow will be back to the billy with some Happy Drivers and possibly Rattlers, as requested.

The Vibes - Can You Feel (Big Beat; 1984)

Purple Side
A1: The Underestimated Man
A2: Double Decker Bus
Green Side
B1: Mini Skirt Blues
B2: Stranger in the House

All four tracks on here are worthy of your attention, but it was Mini Skirt Blues that caught the Cramps attention - listening to them and Iggy having a time of it on Look Mom, No Head! and it's patently obvious which version they're covering, and it isn't The Flower Children's original. Slight irony I suppose, given the depth of Crampular influence to be heard right from the off with "The Underestimated Man", but also quite the compliment too. Give your ears a compliment, and give this swagger, stomp'n'roll classic a good and thorough listening to.

The X-Men - Spiral Girl (Creation; 1985)

A1: Spiral Girl
B1: Bad Girl

So it's on Creation. And one way of looking at when it was released is to say that it was circa '86. That doesn't, however, warrant it being shoved in the miscellaneous indie bin at Vinyl Exchange and labelled as "rare early Creation, c86 indie pop". However, this is where I found it when I picked it up (for the second time. Who knows, it may even have been my original copy. It was them I sold it to a few years ago after all, and with shit labelling like that, it wouldn't be a great wonder if they hadn't manage to shift it). Clearly, the chap in charge of labelling that day didn't bother looking much beyond the label. They certainly didn't listen to it. An a-side that is a quality little slice of garage punkpoppiness that wouldn't have sounded wildly out of place if snuck onto a pebbles or a nuggets, and a b-side that is a cover of one that was on one of those (it's the Zakary Thaks "Bad Girl"). Particularly ear-friendly are the drums, which is no surprise given that they're from "Bongo" Debbie Green, latterly of The Headcoatees, Would be Goods, Ug & the Cavemen et al. I'm reasonably sure that one or two of the other members were in (or went on to be in) another garage band of note, but I'm stuffed if I can remember who. My brain is prompting me that there is a connection, but there it gives up and shrugs at me. They went on to release an album on that den of garage iniquity Media Burn, but more on that another time perhaps. They also have the odd song on compilations, one of which has already featured on here, and one on another that might just yet. Regardless, enjoy. It's short, spiky and to the point.

Hidden Charms

A brief(ish) blast of the undisputed (quiet at the back, William) kings of Medway. They don't need me recounting their troubled history here (it's been done elsewhere, most notably here, albeit with rather idiosyncratic spelling and without an update in several years, thus missing out on the full joys of the Solarflares, Graham on bass for The Buffs and most recently Graham Day and the Gaolers), so we'll get straight on with the records.

The Prisoners - Electric Fit (Big Beat; 1984)

A1: Melanie
A2: What I Want
A3: Go Go (uncredited)
B1: The Last Thing on Your Mind
B2: Revenge of the Cybermen

"London is exciting, yes? ... yes!
The Prisoner's music is exciting, yes? ... definitely yes!!
Put the two together and what do you get?
Just this ... a blast!
Sizzling with musical vibration - itching to record.
The Result. The EP "Electric Fit"
Raw, vibrant and energetic, characterised by explosive guitar work and ear shattering organ lines, the boys tell me it is their favourite selection of songs to date. Getting back into that rocking, squirming groove, they pull out most of the stops and just let things happen. This is the kind of stuff you can dance to or eat to or just stand there and BE to.
Impeccably produced by Russ Wilkins for your pleasure".

Not my words, the words of Peter Niss (no, really), July '84, on the sleeve notes.

Ah, the classic Prisoners EP. All readily available on CDs (Thewisermiserdemelza +7, for instance), which I exhort you to go and buy - several times if possible. However, here they are from the vinyl, pops, clicks and crackles and all, just the way god intended. Stormers one and all, but special mention must go to "The Last Thing on Your Mind" - probably because it is just about my favourite Prisoners song. It's like the song that "Tin Soldier" era Small Faces never realised that they didn't have the ability to make. Not that it sounds anything like the Small Faces, mind. Graham's never sounded more splendid, wistful, impassioned, yearning, cynical and angry - and he's sounded all those pretty darn well all the way through his career. Made for each other fate told me but failed mention - to you. That's a lyric, by the way, not a curious textual bid for Graham's manlove. Also, the song showcases Graham's wonderfully unabashed embracing of the "ba ba ba baaa baaaa" (no, not sheep and no, not Jim'll Fix It) - witness also the unutterably grand "Thinking of You (Broken Pieces)" from The Last Fourfathers.

If you don't like this, then you don't deserve ears.

The Prisoners - Revenge of the Prisoners (Pink Dust; 1984)

A1: What I Want
A2: Melanie
A3: Love Changes
A4: Coming Home
A5: Reaching My Head
A6: The Last Thing on Your Mind
A7: Revenge of the Cybermen Part Two
B1: Here Come the Misunderstood
B2: A Dream is Gone
B3: Hurricane
B4: Tonight
B5: Love Me Lies
B6: Far Away

The elusive dip of the Prisoners' collective toes into the American market. How it fared there, I have no idea, but I do know that it is one HELL of an album. You get the four songs off the "Electric Fit" EP (again. Yes, I'm spoiling you more than the ambassador that built his fucking hotel out of Ferrero Rocher), a re-recording of the classic Coming Home (it's been working out and sounds beefier than when first aired - Russ Wilkins >>> Philip Chevron), "Reaching My Head" from their appearance on The Tube (released previously as part of the Four on 4 EP, with The Milkshakes, Tall Boys and Stingrays being the other three) and the choice selections from Thewisermiserdemelza. Clearly, you'll be wanting to go and buy the actual CD with some of these on (I very much insist on it), but you'll also be needing this for the unavailable songs and the glorious sound of freshly recorded crackly vinyl. You also get "Love Changes", which I haven't found anywhere else, and believe me - you WANT that. You may just not have realised it yet. You will soon.

Into the psyche, now here we go...

Ah, The Volcanoes. One album, one single, two tracks on a compilation. Criminal, really. We've already had the single - a veritable lesson in what to cover, how to cover it, and how to fill the flipside with genius rockin' powerpop - so it's about time we finished the lamentably brief musical odyssey that was The Volcanoes.

First up, the compilation.

Hybrid Gyrations Vol. II (Hybrid; 1985)

A1: Wayward Souls - Unknown Journey
A2: Jon Wayne - Mr. Egyptian
A3: Multicoloured Shades - (The Ballad of) The Voodoo Ranger
A4: The Volcanoes - Into the Psyche
A5: Honolulu Mountain Daffodils - Electrified Sons of Randy Alvey
B1: The Volcanoes - Wild
B2: Multicoloured Shades - Heartbeat
B3: Honolulu Mountain Daffodils - The Sinners Club
B4: Wayward Souls - Now
B5: Jon Wayne - Texas Polka

Not the easiest album to get hold of (not my scan - the scanner is in the wardrobe, under the spare amp and a pair of shoes. It's kinda cramped in here. So thanks to whichever person on el ebay del espana took the little photo) and despite hunting high and low for twenty years, volume one has yet to cross my path. I'm not too narked by this, as I don't think it has any wonderful Volcanoesness secreted in its grooves and, whilst there are some remarkable moments on here not by them, it's The Volcanoes that we're here for. Oh yes.

We start off with The Wayward Souls, finely balancing themselves on the very edge between 80s jangling chart/indie pop and 80s neo-psyche garage revival (their entry on the other side edges slightly more rockwards, siphoning off the spirit of Roky Erickson rather than Sky Saxon). They probably wore a fair bit of paisley. It's very difficult to dislike, but equally it's rather difficult to get too excited about it. Which is not a charge that can be levelled at Jon Wayne.

If you weren't desperate to own the album for The Volcanoes (and why not? WELL?), then you'd be wanting it for Jon Wayne, and in particular "Mr. Egyptian". A semi-musical, devo-tinged, drug-addled cowpunkin' retardostomp through the perils of buying oil and gas at a truckstop from a north African in deepest darkest Texas. Don't give me none of that no-go-diggy-di shit. Probably the most "famous" song on here (I seem to recall it being something of a favourite of John Peel), it really is something to behold. Their other entry is equally bizarre, but lacks a little bit of the Mr. Egyptian magic.

The Multicoloured Shades sit quite happily next to The Wayward Souls, ploughing a very similar furrow with tools borrowed from the same bunch of people. On "Heartbeat" they do it most pleasingly indeed, but we're still very firmly planted in paisley shirt territory (by no means a bad thing per se, I had one myself. Very nice it was too).

The next most interesting entry would be Honolulu Mountain Daffodils (yes, I know I've skipped one. I'm saving them for the end). Apart from having one of the worst bandnames around, they're really quite good. On "Electrified Sons of Randy Alvey", they construct a gloomy, clanking, semi-industrial, electrogoth racket to titillate the ears. This is interspersed with the occasional tuneful croon of "ohhh, baby do you see where we go". Which is, of course, from "Green Fuz". Hence the name of the song. You have to admire a band who whilst trying to sound like they think they are the most futuristic band on the planet (this was 1985, remember) insist on positioning themselves as the musical heirs to a chap from thirty years previously who is only remembered for one song (and even then only because The Cramps covered it). They let the guitarist back in for their second song and sound disappointingly regular as a result (although the chap's efforts at singing remain quite pleasingly scary). But still, "Electrified Sons of Randy Alvey". Mental.

Ah, The Volcanoes. Oops, slight deja vu there. They sound a little like they might have worn paisley too, only their paisley would have been entirely black. This version of "Into the Psyche" (they rerecorded it for the album, but more on that anon) is one of my very favourite songs, which therefore plainly makes it one of the best songs ever deemed worthy of recording. A splendid boingingly fat bass, squalling guitars and that voice. Starts slow and builds up (I'm a sucker for songs that do that). There aren't many bands that can sing "Here I go, the spiral fall, is pushing me, pushing me, into the psyche NOW HERE WE GO" without sounding like utter twats. The Volcanoes are one of them. A gloomy, soaring, rocking, fantastic neogothpsychegarage masterpiece by people who probably wore black paisley and thought bats were cool. And if that doesn't get your juices flowing, then they've probably dried up and left you a crinkling, tinder-dry withered husk of a musical being.

"And introducing Mr. Stuart Volcano on snare drum. Also the same person on bass drum. Yeah. Here we go, Mr. Kid Volcano on guitar. Let's hear it boy..." I don't think he actually says Stuart. It sounds like Steel or something. But, as the drummer was called Stuart, then Stuart is what I shall be typing. For some reason, "Wild" didn't make the album. Impossible to fathom why, although it does give a hint as to the quality of the songs that did make it on. A hint of the billy is added to the gothgaragerockin' neo-psyche. Driven along by the irresistible shuffling drums, it lays down a rock solid platform for Janez (possibly not his real name - Janez Dernulc seems to be a minor Slovenian figure of note from WWII) to let loose with his mighty pipes. Bloody wonderful.

The Volcanoes - Into the Psyche (Hybrid;1985)

A1: Poison Myself
A2: Crane
A3: The Scene
A4: Johnny Johnny
A5: Spider God of Voodoo
B1: All My Little Voodoos
B2: Familiar Vermilion
B3: Poem/Into the Psyche
B4: Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Apologies for the low quality art there - it's no easier to find on t'web than the compilation, and the scanner is still in the wardrobe (I haven't built an extension inbetween uploading albums). Doesn't even begin to do justice to the detail of the cover - which is all the more impetus for you to get out there and track down a copy. It can be done, although you'll need to be patient. Plus, it seems that if often gets listed as "new wave" (?!?), "goth" or "indie rock". Which is quite frankly bizarre - they're possibly basing it on a tiny bit of "Crane" where the song briefly threatens to turn into "Killing Moon". I guess it doesn't help that this comes right before the start of "The Scene", which is a not too distant cousin of "Submission". I don't think it helped their cause, this being generically confusing to people who should know better. They could have invented Gothadelic as a genre for them, not that it would have described them any better.

Anyway, the album starts with a bold statement of intent ("Poison Myself"), and doesn't let up or let go of your ears from then on. Some of the songs are slower burners than the four released before the album (only really the aforementioned "Poison Myself" and "Familiar Vermilion" - an awesome twisted stroll through an inverted version of cheery 70s stomp pop) are quite as instant as the others), but no less good as a result. My one tiny quibble is the rerecording of the title track. Whilst the added "Poem" segment works quite well, the rest is a tiny step down from the original. They absolutely bloody bastard nailed it first time, so quite why Roman Jugg thought they should have another go, I'll never know. Yes, that Roman Jugg. He produced them, y'see, when not busy off being one of The Damned (and, later, a Phantom Chord).

So there you have it. Wish I knew what happened to them. Not the easiest bunch to search for these days (hardly the rarest of bandnames. Take the slightest of wrong turns, and you end up in the world of Ska, and we don't want that). Cruelly overlooked, sadly missed. The Volcanoes.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Cream of Cat Soup

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I made that. Which is why it isn't anywhere near as good as the proper art on here. Anyway, let's take a whirlwind run through the remaining volumes in this curious series...

Various Artists - Cream of the Cats Vol. 02 (1991)

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A1: Poor Boys - Move Baby Move
A2: Fireball XL5 - Rocking Shoes
A3: G Men - One Woman
A4: Teen Kats - J'en ai Marre
A5: Poor Boys - My Baby Don't Agree
A6: Dancing with the Rebels
B1: Wampas - Wampas
B2: Men from Uncle - Charlie
B3: Men from Uncle - Scratching My Way Out
B4: Men from Uncle - Man With the Ray Eyes
B5: Men from Uncle - Bad Trip
B6: Men from Uncle - I Can't Get Enough

Would you look at that for a compilation arrangement. The words piss and poor spring to mine (no reflection on the content mind, just the ordering). What happened there? "What are we going to do? We've got plenty for the neo side, might even put a bit of effort into keeping the Poor Boys songs apart - only a bit mind, not a lot of effort, working out how to properly space three songs in a list of six is a bit taxing for my tiny mind - but what about the psycho side? We've really made a rod for our own back here" "Well, I've got that Men From Uncle tape - let's stick all them on!"

I'm pretty sure that's how it went, y'know.

Anyway, they could have made more effort to keep the Poor Boys apart - they could have pushed at least one of them off the album. They aren't the greatest and lend the neorockabilly side a lukewarm and anaemic feel, one only enhanced by the not entirely welcome return of Fireball XL5. They bring absolutely nothing new to the table, preferring instead to leave with the cutlery, place settings and a leg each. The G Men do their best to save the side, and are more than partially successful. Ably assisted by the jaunty French bop of the Teen Kats (who appear to be singing about Johnny Marr), they manage to make a success of the side. Those two alone are worth the entrance fee.

Things really pick up on the second side, where a brief blast of Wampas (who seem to have pinched the tune from "Dear Abby" off of Dead Kennedys "Bedtime for Democracy", which is a bit weird) is followed by the aforementioned slab of Men from Uncle. "Charlie" isn't a cover of the grand old Sharks song, rather it is a curious sequel, charting Charlie's release from Borstal (where he was presumably put for chainsawing everyone to bits in the first song). Reasonably clever semi-appropriation of elements of the original make it interesting enough, slapping along pleasingly enough. "Scratching My Way Out" is possibly the peak of the side, a proper psycho high speed rip with rolling drums, a supercharged chorus, and jaunty lyricising involving coffins and being buried alive. How things should be, in other words. The other songs do little to let the side down, veering in and out of rockabilly, psychobilly and mid 80s indie stylings. File under curious and enjoy letting your ears travel through the less travelled avenues of 80s psycho/neo.

Various Artists - Cream of the Cats Vol. 03 (1991)

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A1: Stingrays - Slap Bass Boogie
A2: X Invaders - Storm Boys
A3: Boppin' Kids - Fire My Soul
A4: Stringbeans - I'll Cry Instead
A5: Outer Limits - The Chase
A6: Colbert Hamilton - Wow
B1: Boppin' Kids - Go Wild
B2: Colbert Hamilton - Long Black Shiny Car
B3: Stingrays - Radiator Rock
B4: Stringbeans - Total Jerk
B5: X Invaders - Lover Boy
B6: Outer Limits - Tell Me

Don't get excited - it's not those Stingrays. Rather, it's the jazzy, swinging, big bandy bunch from the record label that brought you the Lambrettas, Judy Tzuke and Elton John. In short, they aren't very good and have a distinct tendency to the boogie woogie, raising the grim spectre of Jools the no-necked monstrosity Holland. But things very quickly pick up X Invaders and Boppin' Kids, blowing the previous approach of one side neo and one side psycho out of the fetid waters in which it was previously languishing. A distinctly better approaching to song distribution on show, too. Stringbeans and Outer Limits maintain the below the radar psycho rumble before Colbert rocks up with a more than typical straightahead neorockabilly revival that tries far too hard and achieves very, very little. I know that to some people I might be blaspheming, but Colbert Hamilton leaves me cold. Simply not trash enough, really.

Side two messes with the order of the first side, dispelling any notions that the series had changed to having medium grade psycho bookended by overly earnest hollow revivalists. Not as strong as their other entry, it nevertheless clicks along and easily overshadows one of the most obvious covers in the history of covers from Dilbert Hamilton. Putting the next Stingrays effort straight after makes it easier to move the needle along to get to probably the best three songs on the album, closing with a reasonably storming stomp from the Outer Limits. Ignore the names, go for the lesser lights and you won't be disappointed.

Various Artists - Cream of the Cats Vol. 04 (1991)

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A1: Stingrays - Don't Break Down
A2: Roughnecks - The Fly
A3: Fireball XL5 - Prison Walls
A4: Boppin' Kids - Love Me Like a Stone
A5: Colbert Hamilton - Ice Cold
A6: Rochee & the Sarnos - Sarno Dictionary
B1: Colbert Hamilton - Long Blonde Hair
B2: Fireball XL5 - The Man With no Name
B3: Roughnecks - Dope Rider
B4: Boppin' Kids - Tainted Love
B5: Colbert Hamilton - Love Me
B6: Rochee & the Sarnos - Sarno Fever

DO get excited, it IS those Stingrays, tearing out of the blocks with one of their finest, catchiest trashabilly pop songs. Makes you wonder if the compilers simply got a bit confused on the last one. Lord knows how they could have thought the two sets of songs were by the same band. An element of the cementhead on show, I feel. It's impossible to dislike the song, and there is a heavy punishment for trying.

The Roughnecks keep things rocking along, and even Fireball XL5 up their game to join in, driven along by a bass that motors along nicely. Boppin' Kids maintain their form from the last instalment, stomping along and keeping the torch burning brightly before Dilbert Hamilton pisses on it and chucks it in the sea whilst it's raining. Still, it's only a minor blip as Rochee comes to the rescue with his Sarnos, taking a gloriously demented and very nearly musical meander through spelling. S for traffic warden, a for antelope, r for rock'n'roll, n for naughty nighties, o for ost-er-ich, s for sometimes, put them altogether and what have you got? SARNOS! S for sarno, a for sarno, r for sarno, n for sarno, etc. I could carry on, and to be honest it would be more fun than having to type about Dilbert and his next effort. O for sarno, s for sarno. Skipping right along.

Fireball XL5 happily continue in the vein of the other side rather than the other album, Roughnecks chip in with a solid little rocker, and the Boppin' Kids launch into a surprisingly worthwhile cover of "Tainted Love" before Dilbert stinks the place out for a third time. A lesson in how and what to cover is handed to Dilbert on a plate by the Boppin' Kids, along with his arse and his dignity. Once more Rochee is called on to save the day, something he and his Sarnos do in fine style. Having previously reinvented spelling, they show that there really is no end to their talents by reinventing the concept of singing. It really is something for your grateful ears to behold.

So, four albums in, they'd just got the hang of how to arrange a compilation, they'd hopefully discovered that sometimes more than one band can have the same name, and they packed in. It's probably for the best really, but there really are some often overlooked slices of good old fashioned trash to be had on these albums. The stuff you know, you know, the stuff you don't may just give you a happy surprise (unless it's by Dilbert, of course). Go on, be a gambler, click in the comments. At the very least you'll walk away with a stormer of a Stingrays song and a lesson in spelling from Rochee.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Lost Soultastic

I said I was in a Lost Souls mood, didn't I? Well, I'm cheating a little bit...

Stage Frite - Island of Lost Souls (1989; Link)

1: Island of Lost Souls
2: Pink & Black
3: Noises (Ain't 'arf Weird)
4: One Last Dream
5: Bad Moon Rising
6: Black Magic
7: Slippin' In
8: The Ripper
9: Take the Money and Run
10: Searchin'
11: Let's Play House
12: Freight Train

Well, the album title is right, at least. Incidentally, the song is nothing to with the Tall Boys tune of the same name. It's not quite as good, either, but that's hardly a damning indictment, given the marvelosity of the Tall Boys. Indeed, the album as a whole is a juicy little slice of classic Psychobilly. Wider opinion seems somewhat split on Stage Frite, with one psychobilly site being somewhat less than entirely complimentary, citing "boring fillers" and "usual cover versions". I wouldn't be entirely sure if they were listening to the same album, if it wasn't for the fact that they get their track recommendations pretty much spot on, even if they do neglect to mention the rockin' and rattlin' good time that is "Let's Play House" under the highlight heading. Even the covers are generally pleasing, fitting the album well and hardly giving rise to thoughts of a band stuck for something to do and padding things out with half-arsed run throughs of other people's songs.

All in all, you can't go wrong with a bit of Stage Frite. It appears to have garnered itself some form of extended CD reissue, which you should clearly buy, but here it is in all its original vinyl glory (complete with the very original skip, sorry about that. Just adds to the charm, really). Be a good mutant and open up the comments and get clicking.

You'll have to wait for the actual Lost Souls - I feel an impromptu half day off coming on tomorrow, so you never know.

'art attack

See that art up there? It's cracking, that's what it is. As is the art over on the Mutant Brain. I know I've said it before - I'll say it again and I'll keep on saying it.

Anyways, that's the handiwork of one Mister Andy Hart, hence the rather laboured splendid play on words in the thread title. And you should click on that link to enquire about viewing his wider portfolio (there is no way of saying that to make it sound not rude), proffering commissions, making requests, or just generally bombarding him with fanmail. The link'll be added over on the left there, so there's really no need to print this post off and glue it to the wall behind your monitor. Besides, that wouldn't really be much use anyway as you'd be hard pushed to click the link on a piece of paper.

Support your local Hartistic genius. Even if he isn't actually local.


As you've probably noticed (with your eyes), we have spectacular new artwork over here at Mutant Rock. Once more, it's the unholy brainchild of Andy (also responsible for the glum little quiff chap over there and the grand art on the Mutant Brain). It's a feast for the eyes to rival the feast for the ears that I keep attaching to these typed piles of waffle.

Show your appreciation, applaud the screen. And possibly comment on it (or, indeed, on anything). There may well be a link to further examples of such unbridled artistic talent, just as soon as I have his kind permission to do so.

Whilst I'm here, I may as well take a moment to advertise the upcoming aural delights. There will be more Medway mixtures (the remainder of the Powerhouses, and maybe more), Scotland's finest garage exponents The Gravedigger V, the X-Men 7" I promised a while back, perhaps some assorted garage compilations of uncertain association and variable quality, more wild and crazy Psychobilly (I'm feeling in a Lost Souls mood), not to mention the completion of the world's most bizarrely arranged compilation series, Cream of the Cats.

All this and much, much more (I haven't even got round to the Girl Trouble singles, or dug into the oozing heap of Mono Men records, or any of the other things I have nebulously planned in my overloaded mind).

Whilst we wait, have a listen to my musical obsession du jour, Graham Day and the Gaolers. All the hallmarks of the typical Graham Day genius - ten seconds in and you feel like you're listening to an old favourite that you want to sing along to, despite not knowing the words because it's the first time you've ever heard it.

The album is out later this month on Damaged Goods, so be a good mutant and make sure you buy it.

Friday, 19 October 2007

I used to have these argyle socks (mixtures 3)

And finally, this. You've probably heard it, you can get it plenty of other places. But not, it seems, quite this version. It's from the original vinyl issue, and therefore contains the original, and clearly by far the best, tracklisting. All the favourites are still there, but out go the underwhelming later additions, and back comes one of the cracking original inclusions...

Various Artists - Pebbles Volume 3 (1979; BFD)

A1: Dave Diamond & the Higher Elevation - The Diamond Mine
A2: Teddy & his Patches - Suzy Creamcheese
A3: Crystal Chandelier - Suicidal Flowers
A4: William Penn V - Swami
A5: Jefferson Handkerchief - I'm Allergic to Flowers
A6: (bonus track)
A7: The Calico Wall - Flight Reaction
A8: The Hogs - Loose Lip Sync Ship
A9: The Driving Stupid - The Reality of Air Fried Borsk

B1: The Third Bardo - I'm Five Years Ahead of My Time
B2: The Bees - Voices Green and Purple
B3: The Monocles - The Spider & the Fly
B4: Godfrey - Let's Take a Trip
B5: TC Atlantic - Faces
B6: Mike Condello - Soggy Cereal
B7: The Lea Riders Group - Dom Kellar os Mods
B8: The Driving Stupid - Horror Asparagus Stories
B9: Race Marbles - Like a Dribbling Fram

So, as I said, all the much-travelled and much-covered favourites are here. The Fuzztones and The Thanes have had a go ("Horror Asparagus Stories"), the Fuzztones have had another go ("Voices Green and Purple"), and the world and his dog has had a go at "I'm Five Years Ahead of My Time" (The Cramps, Monster Magnet, from the sublime to the riffdiculous). And, as such, you probably need few pointers from me with regards to their mental majesty (although a special mention must be made of Crystal Chandelier - a Jim Morrison imitation so slavish and faithful that you begin to wonder if he was actually convinced he was the golden-voiced thick-headed purveyor of ludicrous "poetry" himself - and the truly incomparable Race Marbles. Never has Whiny Nasal Bob Dylan been interpreted so pleasingly and enjoyably).

Another special mention should be made of the tracklisting versus the actual songs on the album. That is, "Horror Asparagus Stories" doesn't actually make it from the cover to the vinyl for some reason. It's a fine song though, readily available elsewhere, so feel free to add yourself and concoct a whole new version (providing you keep it Adjeef free, of course).

So, why am I including this? Well, there's no Adjeef on this version, for a start. Score ten points to the original vinyl. It's from the vinyl, so score another billion. It has all the great things that the other versions have, only in vinyl form, so score as many as the other versions, with just a little bit extra added. And it has Mike Condello's disturbing discovery of a Soviet plot in his breakfast bowl, so invent your own big number, add that to the score, download the album, set fire to the score chart and run away merrily laughing and contesting the urge to do a slightly cossack-type dance whilst lustily singing about commie cereal and Fu Manchu.

Think you can kill harmonicas like that? More will come.

A Mixture of Mixes Part 2

Remember I said that there was a compilation series with a more frankly baffling approach to arrangement of tracks than the Medway Powerhouses? Well, it's this one.

Various Artists - Cream of the Cats Vol. 1 (1991)

A1: Polecats - Down the Line
A2: G Men - Gotta Go
A3: Levi Dexter - Other Side of Midnight
A4: Fireball XL5 - Searching for my Baby
A5 G Men - Left Out
A6: Polecats - Hip Hip Baby
B1: Wampas - Dracu Bop
B2: Wampas - BM
B3: Meteors - Mutant Rock (instr.)
B4: X-Men - Do the Ghost
B5: Stingrays - What the New Breed Say
B6: Escalators - Munsters Theme

Told you I'd mess up the small pic big list thing. Just as well I didn't say anything, really.

Erring on the side of the neorockabilly, this series was something of an oddity, with a suitably odd and befuddling approach to arrangement of tracks (with this one being possibly the most sensible of the series - trust me, it gets worse). The only hint of sanity is the possible separation of the more purely neorockabilly on side one, with the slightly wilder stuff on the second side. But even taking that into account, Wampas were hardly the most psycho of billies. And even if they were, why are their two together at the start of side two? Why no spacing out of bands? Ruddy infuriating, if you ask me.

If you're a more straightahead neorockabilly chap or chappette in your bowling shirt / vintage fifties dress thing, then chances are you'll naturally be more aroused by the opening six tracks than by the other six, and vice versa for mentalists in Demented are Go wifebeaters and what have you. But that isn't to say that there isn't something of worth for both on each, if that makes sense. I might be biased against the Polecats (I think it stems from them nabbing one of the best bandnames and then wasting it), but there is little denying their competence, reliability and jauntiness (he typed grudgingly). And the G Men are none too shabby either, providing the highlight of the side (and possibly the album) with "Gotta Go" (also covered, rather more profitably and energetically, by Frenzy). On the flip, Wampas have already been mentioned (full of sound, a dash of fury, but just try to remember the tune ten seconds after its over. Not easy, chief). The Meteors make a name-adding record-shifting appearance with an instrumental of the best titled song ever (not that I'm biased in any way, you understand), and the X-Men and the Stingrays make pleasingly raucous additions. But the real clincher for this side has to be the Escalators all too brief chuggingly twangy take on the Munsters theme. Only 1m20s, but worth many a click of the repeat button (much less fiddly than the constant returning of the tone arm that I did originally - always more difficult with a short song at the end of the side. One wrong twitch and it's on its merry auto-return way, or at least it was with my turntable then. I have a much more forgiving one now).

So, something for everyone then. And by everyone, I mean people who like neorockabilly, psychobilly and theme tunes. That's everyone, right?

Now, I'm none too keen, but it the interests of variety, here's some primetime Polecats. It's not like I'm likely to be of a mind to pop them on here very often, so make the most of it, mutoids. Enjoy the tune, experience the urge to slap the singer, possibly throw things at Boz.

Part three anon.

A Mixture of Mixes Part 1

Told you I'd be back with a bang. Well, I lied. I'm back with a bunch of compilations. And I didn't actually say I'd be back with an anything, I just waffled about turntables and posted a few metubes. So sue me.

First up is the promised continuation of the Medway saga. And here it is.

Various Artists - Medway Powerhouse Vol. 2 (1987; Hangman Records)

A1: The Milkshakes - Cadalina
A2: The Milkshakes - You Did Her Wrong
A3: The Milkshakes - The Red Monkey
A4: The Prisoners - Joe 90
A5: The Discords - Little Miss Misfit
A6: The Discords - Second to No One (Part 2)
A7: The Delmonas - I've Got Everything Indeed
A8: The Delmonas - Uncle Willy
B1: Auntie Vegetable - Stroll On
B2: The James Taylor Quartet - The Cat
B3: Timmy Tremelo - Johnny Guitar
B4: Thee Mighty Caesars - Your Love
B5: Wild Billy & Big Russ - Bourgheois Blues
B6: The Pop Rivets - Laughing at You
B7: The Pop Rivets - MT Sounds
B8: The Mind Readers - Hurt Me

In the grand style of the previous entry, the track list dwarfs the album cover. There are worse ways to start a post. I would say something along the lines of "and that's how it should be" or something, but not only is that a bit stupid (I mean, how would it work? How would you get all the artists and titles written on it? How would people know what was on it? Madness), but I'm also likely to get the next one wrong and have a massive album cover and make myself look even more of a tit than normal.

If it was not for a later entry into this post, I would possibly be tempted to assert that the Medway Powerhouse compilations were the most insensibly compiled compilations in compilingland. I mean, the music is all almost unrelentingly great (a riot of cheap instruments and priceless tunes), but the ordering of tracks and artists? Mental. Breaks every unwritten rule of compilation making that I carry around in my unhinged loaf. There is at least some reasoning involved this time - the first three are sessions recorded for a regional radio station, and lumping them together makes a sort of sense - but the pattern is nearly all the same. Big hitters side one (Milkshakes, Prisoners, Delmonas), contenders (Auntie Vegetable, Mind Readers, Timmy Tremelo) side two.

The Prisoners entry is of particular note here (having escaped collation on the ubiquitous b-sides and (slightly oxymoronic, given their release) unreleased trackpilation), a fun and faithful rip through the specky crime solving child prodigy's theme tune. The rest of the entries from the usual suspects are of the usual high standard, but lacking the curio value. As is usually the case with these things, the real fun can be found on the flipside. You get the poignant reminder that JTQ used to be really quite good, an unsettling journey into the twisted rock world of unlikely Medway supergroup Auntie Vegetable (oh, the sad and unforgivable lack of an actual Auntie Vegetable album. Why must you mock me so, history?), the brief dip of a toe into the twangy instro groove of Timmy Tremelo (the weakest of his appearances on the compilations, but still mighty fine), a brief snatch (hurr) of the Pop Rivets and The Mind Readers doing another of their proper songs.

Flitting back to The Prisoners, take a break from the reading and whilst you're putting your internet connection to good use by grabbing this thing from the linky in the commenty feast your eyes on this clip of The Prisoners belting out Melanie on French TV. The sound quality isn't the best, but it's worth watching just for the French presenter, sitting in a car-thing, in a television studio, introducing "...mey-lahr-nee!". And also from the amused and puzzled looks on the chaps faces.

Part two to follow very shortly indeed.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

The Mutant Brain

In pursuit of the entirely wholesome goal of keeping Mutant Rock 100% impurely mutant rockin', it now has a blogsome sibling over at the Mutant Brain. It's where I'll be keeping all brain seepages that aren't strictly and entirely mutant rock. Go on, take a look. It's sPazAmptastic and it's part of the reason for the slowness of posting on here, so you really should.

Happy to say that the other hindrance to the spread of the good mutant rock word - the wonkified turntable - has been cured (just spent a good half hour faffing with all the things you faff about with on a new turntable). So gird your loins and brace yourself for some entirely splended sharity over the weekend. In the meantime brush up on your sPazAmping knowledge over at the Mutant Brain and drink in the splendour of everybody's favourite freakishly gangly lord of trash Nigel Lewis, back when he was a Meteor.


Monday, 15 October 2007

The Vague Outline of Things to Come...

I would have gone with shape, but as I previewed the likely content of the post in my spacious head, I realised that would be rather too specific for what is likely to spew forth into the internets over the course of the next minutes.

Work and a newly wonkified turntable have brushed against the hull of my bloggernaught like one of those spiky mine things, threatening to send it to the bottom of the sea of metaphors stretched to (and possibly beyond) breaking point. But fear not, those of you foolish and simplebrained enough to be made afraid by a slight slowing in a random weirdo's technoramblings - once things are once more shipshape and fashioned like breasts, there will be more sharings of the most tantalising and titillating kind.

There will be the happy continuation of the Medway Compilations (very possibly even in order, who knows), another secret compilationy treat, the continued exploration of the mustier and seedier pathways of the Psychotrashabilly Garage world (with a nice miniature slice of X-Men edging its way to the top of the pile), some Purple Things (and maybe some Vibes), some other stuff and either a) some Cannibals or b) a continued dodging of the Cannibals issue because I still don't know where to stuff them in my mental hierarchy of aural pleasures, not even after all these long and frankly tedious years.

The future is bright, the future comes in a variety of pleasing colours and will be stuffed to hernia inducing proportions with gizzard tickling music in a variety of pleasing lengths.

In the meantime, here's some Cramps. One half hillbilly and one half punk, they do what the Cramps do best.


Wednesday, 10 October 2007

El Humo te Hace Mal!

Nothing to do with oddball 50s movies this time - a no upload post today, completely knackered (that working late'll gertcha every time). Instead, we've just time to marvel at the wonder that is Los Peyotes...

The world needs more crazy spazout trap rattling. It needs more dazzlingly expert maraca handling. It needs more mock sixties studio videos. It needs more garage titans in matching outfits. THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PEYOTES. I was more than mildly obsessed with this song when it came out, and with darn good reason, I feel. The cough is, quite clearly, integral to the whole shebang. When I found the video, well that just brutally smothered the cake in an ocean of icing. Which made a bit of a mess, to be frank.

Also, it's good see what that Maradona got up to after the football thing. Who knew he'd turn out to have the wildest voice in Argentina, South America, garage rock today - indeed, the world?!? YEAH! ELUMOTASSAYMAL!

Go buy the album ("¡Cavernicola!").


Muchacha awesome.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007


Outrageous! Crazy cult movie! THEY EAT HUMAN FLESH!

John Carradine lets himself down, he lets the family name down, he lets the school down. BIG STYLE!

Occasionally, I feel like I'm in a little bit of a rush to try and get a good example of just about every aspect of my psychogarageabillytrash cornucopia (except perhaps the Cramps. The day the internet needs me to tell it about the Cramps is the day I finally invent my time machine and go back, create the
internet and post about the Cramps). And, it is in the spirit of this, of trying to fit in as many of the different aspects of the aforementioned cornucopia as possible, that I bring this post. It also seems to have a lot of commas in it, so if punctuation turns you on, loosen your pants!

Marble Orchard
- It's My Time b/w Agent Invisible (Estrus; 1992)

A: It's My Time

B: Agent Invisible

Ah, Estrus. Sometimes, I like nothing better than the feeling of finding a record label that is enough by itself to seal the deal. Estrus is one of those labels, and they will doubtless be making repeated appearances in this here mess of words. If I can stop ogling the revolving wonder of the blue marbled vinyl of Took That Thing by the Monomen long enough
to remember to rip it, that is.

Marble Orchard. Why weren't Marble Orchard more widely acclaime
d? Perhaps it was because your man there (Ron Kleim, probably) couldn't sing too good. Well, that's perhaps a touch harsh - he does well enough on several tracks on the full lengther that followed (Savage Sleep) - but the b-side is one second longer, twenty times better, and minus all the singing. Don't get me wrong, "It's My Time" by itself would have warranted this post and Marble Orchard's place in my disorganised and by no means in order of preference hall of fame. It rocks along quite garagetastically, putting the rock back into garagerock in the grand Estrus style. But the flipside is THE side. Without a voice in the way, the guitar expands really quite gratifyingly, matron. In fact, the whole thing does its best Gas Huffer instro crossed with Mudhoney fuzz number impersonation and tugs wildly at my socks, occasionally threatening to knock them off during the throaty, rumbling verses (for want of a better word. You know very well what I mean. There's probably a big stupid muso term for it, but I'll be buggered if I'm going to either find out what it is or use it if I accidentally did).

The 'Orchard (as absolutely nobody calls them) didn't really manage much else, as I recall. There was the album (also on Estrus, and disappointingly purchased on CD as Easte
rn Bloc didn't have the vinyl the fools), and a few compo appearances (again, mostly on Estrus). A cursory scouring of th'internets reveals Ron to be searching hopefully for someone to release his recording whilst maintaining a frankly abysmal tiny website. It's a little sadmaking, but it doesn't change the fact that fifteen years ago, "It's My Time" and, to a greater extent, "Agent Invisible" was the greatest thing in the world for well over a week - no mean achievement in my head, then or now.

Gas Huffer - Firebug b/w Jesus Was My Only Friend (Black Label
; 1989)

A: Firebug
B: Jesus Was My Only Friend

Feels a bit stupid typing out a tracklisting for a two track single, what with it all being listed in the title and that. But I'm a creature of habit, with the emphasis on the creature, so deal with it. Gas Huffer. Where would the world be without Gas Huffer? Up shit creek with the paddle rammed up its stupid arse, that's where. And where would the world of music be without Tom Price? Nailed to the bottom of said boat, that's where. Now, I occasionally read some guff here and there about Gas Huffer peaking way too early by having this as their debut single. That's quite patently nonsense, as the next part of this post will comfortably prove. But it is true that it's quite frankly perfect in every way. You'd be hard pushed to find 1m47s put to better use (unless you are once more rubbish at the sex). They certainly set themselves a ridiculously high standard to be measured against, that's for damn sure. It's a rowdy blitz through Tomtastic guitars, battered drums, howling and lyrics about broken hearts and arson. In short (and boy, is it short), it'll tear your tiny head in two. In a good way. The b-side is none too shabby as well.

Gas Huffer - Mole b/w Body Buzz (SFTRI; 1992)

A: Mole
B: Body Buzz

Sympathy was
another label that stood tall enough for me to purchase on it's merits alone, but you didn't always quite know what you were going to get. Which, I guess was part of the charm.

The shop had two copies, one in a green sleeve and one in a pink sleeve. I really quite desperately wanted to get both, but I had only enough money with me to buy one. By the time pay day rolled round and I went back, the other had gone. Which was probably a good thing, as I would probably have been a bit of a gimp to have bought two copies just for different sleeves. I got the green, if you're wondering, with
clear orange vinyl. This things are important, although I know not really why.

A small war rages in my head from time to time as to whether I prefer the riot of Firebug or the garage groove of Mole. Over the years, Mole has managed to gain the higher ground and has succeeded in holding off Firebug, but boy is it close. How do you choose between two stonking Tom Price-fests, one about broken hearts and arson and the other about a mole? "And when you dream, deep beneath your sleepy head / that mole is diggin' where the livin' put the dead". That's how you choose. That and the fact that Matt is slightly more superb vocal form (plus he plays lead on the excellent instro b-side).

Gas Huffer are now sadly no more, having bowed out last year. Drummer Joe Newton is now something crazy like deputy vice art directing editor for Rolling Stone now (not that crazy given the persistence excellence of the band's artwork) and Tom has a
pparently been diagnosed with Parkinson's. Which sucks. With a capital shit.

The Fuzztones & Sean Bonniwell - The People in Me b/w Gonna
Make You Mine (1998)

A: The People in Me

B: Gonna Make You Mine

Hot Bastard Damn! The Fuzztones will get their own spot on their own merit (okay, so they could be a little too slavish and stray into almost being a caricature of themselves occasionally, but there is still plenty of top guff in there), but this has Sean Bonniwell! Yes, THE Sean Bonniwell! Long since shorn of his Music Machine, Sean pops up here to the join the 'Tones (as possibly one or two twunts call them) on a rendition of his masterpiece and their mastercover. Given away free with issue #16 of Misty Lane, this is a curious little curio deserving of a place in the venerated record collection of just about anyone. Provided you have the original, of course. And the 'Tones cover. And the rather wondrous St. Thomas (Pepper Smelter) take too. Lacks the sple
ndid grunting that made the original (and both other covers) such a beast of a song, and is also quite naturally more Fuzztones than Music Machine (which is a little bit of a shame - the Fuzzers (pretty certain no-one has ever called them that before) could possibly have tried something a little different instead of just covering their own cover). However, there is something quite undefinably special in hearing Sean partially reclaim his own territory, ably assisted by those who profited most obviously from his early adventures. He leaves Rudi and friends alone on the b-side, where they tootle through a solid take on another classic, but that isn't what we're here for. It's Sean, and it's Sean's song.

Hngh, hurgh, hurrh, HAH.

Screamin' Jay Hawkins & The Fuzztones - Live (Midnight; 1984)

A1: Alligator Wine
A2: I Put a Spell on You
B1: It's That Time Again
B2: Constipation Blues

Now THAT is one party you'd want to be at. The second in a bone-shakin' Fuzztones and special guest twofer. And what a special guest it is. If anyone ever earned his sobriquet, it was Screamin' Jay. And what form both he and Henry are on, too. If only he'd always had the backing of a band treating his talent with the effort it deserved. And if only the Fuzztones had let a little of this grand ole dirty swamp into their own efforts now an
d again, too. The world would have been a happier place and there would be twenty percent less kitten suffering. Maybe not, but I'd have been a mighty satisfied man, that's for certain.

The Mono Men - Took That Thing (SFTRI; 1992)

A1: Took That Thing
B1: Shakin' All Over
B2: Mr. Eliminator

In a perfectly ordered world, I guess I would have closed tonight's little mini disc festival with another Marble Orchard single for symmetry. Fact is though, there isn't one. I suppose I could have gone for second best and punted out another Estrus single. But no, the confused mutantrocker that I am, I found I had painted myself into a corner by mispegging the Mono Men's joint finest moment, thus disordering the
record labelness. But what does that matter, with this mighty beast cleansing the inner pathways of your gourd? Absolutely bugger all, that's what it matters. I must have played this about forty consecutive times when I got it home, just sat in front of my turntable in wonder. It must have been all of a week before I found out I liked the b-side nearly as much. Being a flighty sort, I'm also swayed by artwork, and this artwork swayed me. No, not the really obvious tits. Well, not just the really obvious tits. Anything in that cartoony Coop-influenced style is going to part me from my hard-earned dough, no problem. And stick a titan of a song inside that revs up like the biggest dragster on earth and then powers its way along the strip to blow a happy hole in your head, and it's fun, frolics and cheap bourbon all round. The fact that the b-side rumbles menacingly round and round in the gaping hole punched by the a-side, well that's just the mint in my mojito.

I couldn't be making it easier for you here. Bite sized snippets of wonder for you to tickle your lobes with, barely a comment and a click away. You don't even have to read the words. Although you'd be missing out if you didn't, even if I do say so myself, and I'm not usually one for blowing my own trumpet (I can't reach for a start).

Monday, 8 October 2007

This was the day that engulfed the world in TERROR!

Sod's law that it'd be a Monday, really. Wrought by none other than The Deadly Mantis, would you believe. Yes, that's right. The entire globe was entirely engulfed entirely in terror entirely by a single massive insect. Just the one. On it's jack. I haven't been this scared by something since the whole "terrifying nighttime shrubbery" of Blair Witch Project. Which, let's face it, was about as scary as, well, a privet in the dark. Yes, I watch a lot of rubbish films. It's something of a hobby of mine. If you're lucky, I might tell you about it one day. Remind me to mention "Population 436".

But back to the issue in hand, which is not giant menacing green ins
ects, but rather the deepest recesses of my musical brain. Now there is somewhere you wouldn't want to be alone on a dark night.

Ring Norris McWhirter (note: you can't actually do this, he's dead)! Page Roy Castle (note: you can't do this either, he's also dead)! Text Kris Akabusi (sadly, this would be possible)! Nothing less than a record-breaking FOUR tiny masterpieces on show tonight! AWOOGA!

Ahem. We have an escalope of the billy, an entrecote of the trash, a medallion of the garage and a massive gumbo pot full of the Medway goodness. I think I need to invest
in a Thesaurus. I hear they make good pets, even if they are extinct.

The Bad Dooleys - Shark Attack (1987; Kix 4 U)

1: 900 Miles; 2: Shark Attack; 3: Pyro Go
4: Circular Course; 5: The Crazy Night
6: Darkness;
7: The Black Phantom
8: Stomped Dance

THE Bad Dooleys album. Or mini album, at least. They went really rather rubbish after this midget classic (well, there might have been a little goodness sandwiched between the two, but this really was career peak), lurching from primetime continental psycho to sub-Stray Cats neo-rockabilly with all the crushing disappointment of opening a Kinder Egg only to find you've got a stupid pre-painted Terrapin instead of a funky toy. Or worse, a stupid tiny jigsaw. They even had the temerity to go and tarnish their own stupendous cover of "900 Miles", the blockbusting album opener, on the diluted and overpolished jaunt into Polecat territory.

But enough with the gripin', I hear you say (with my special internet-enabled ears. I loves me my Innovations catalogue). And quite right you are. The wrigglin', writhin, stompin', powerslammin' fun barely let's up for a second on this all-too-brief breathless straightahead steam through the upper echelons of eighties psycho. From the aforementioned opener (rhythms gouging you a third ear, a great big dirty guitar troubling your innards and drums beating your head flatter'n Mrs. Meatloaf after a lusty night o' love), you know you're onto a winner. And also nearing the end of a paragraph clearly sponsored by The World Apostrophe Appreciatin' Society. The eponymous second track briefly dips, lending weight to the already fierce desire to lift that stylus up and plonk it back down again right back at the start of the side. Something you want to do over and over. But stick with it, it's hardly a bad track (there's barely one on the whole album), and besides - if everything was an instant classic, how would you tell things apart?

"Pyro Go" gets you right back on the mainline to mental quiff central. It stomps, growls and chews its way into the centre of your brain, filled with wonderfull German phrasing and lyrics you can make neither head nor tail of. And you love it. Speaking of the e
nhancing power of the foreign phrasing, you're dumped straight into the next grunting moment of wonder.


The last bit might be a bit wrong. Twenty years of being one my favourite songs on one of my favourite albums have shed no more light on just what the hell "Circular Course" is the stoory oov. It doesn't matter, no not a jot. Well, it does, but only because it makes it all so much darn better. Germans do psycho well. Mad Sin also had it goin' on for a bit (they sadly switched it off, decommissioned it, mothballed it and put it in the bin, trusting rather in their ability to sound like an average rocky metal band with inappropriate instruments). But let us return to the time when the mighty Teutons bestrode the world like scary big musician people. Let us cherish that which they left us, including Shark Attack (replete with baffling album artwork). Danke!

The Escalators - Moving Staircases (Big Beat; 1983)

1: The Day the Sun Burned Down
2: Sloane Rangers; 3: Video Club
4: Flanders Field; 5: Young Men
6: Cut Up; 7: Eskimo Rock
8: Slumberland (Vicky's Song)
9: Dog Eats Robot; 10: The Camden Crawl

11: Survivalists; 12: Starstruck
13: Monday

Ah, the fabled Escalators. The now-legendary Nigel Lewis' inbetweenie band. Rising from the ashe - hang on, I've already done that once. No, this was Nigel's "proper" band. Not entirely trash free, they don't really dine at the same table as the rest of the eighties trash set (including their own later incarnation, the Tall Boys). It's a fine album, don't get me wrong, but it seems remarkbly unsure of itself, sharing rather more with "regular" indie of the time and Nigel's rather excellent weirdo solo album
o of much later than with the bleak b-movie trash that Nigel did so well. A stab at stardom, perhaps, an attempt to do "grown-up" music. And thus perpetually slightly diminished as a result.

There are good ol' garage moments - the opening "The Day The Sun Burned Down" and "Cut Up" could quite happily be Tall Boys songs. But too often Nigel relinquishes vocals (I've asked this before - why? You've got someone who can make shouting "HAAAALP" like a scared lobotomised docker sound sexy, why let anyone else sing?), and "Sloane Rangers" and "Slumberland", whilst certainly pleasing, could have been just about anyone hanging around the NME charts at the time.

On balance, the "Dog Eats Robot" moments of deadpan Nigel drone win ou
t over the "Slumberland" ubiquities, but not enough to lift this to the heights attained by Wednesday Addam's Boyfriend by the Tall Boys. Which is why I will always prefer the Tall Boys. I might even be in a minority. Perhaps the erstwhile rarity of Moving Staircases, and the brevity of the Escalators incarnation has invested them with a not quite warranted exotic lustre. I still love it, but not quite as much as I really want to. Must be a bit like having a ginger child.

The Volcanoes - Strangers in the Night b/w Murder USA (MCA; 1983)

A1: Strangers in the Night
A2: Murder U.S.A.

Sweet toasty moses, now you're talking. Oh why weren't The Volcanoes massively famous? Rammed full of tunes (not all of them their own, clearly), chockful of a cool garage vibe, overflowing with genuine psych promise, and infused with the joy of the billy, both psycho and rocka.

You don't get all of that on this little snippet, just most of it. The rest of it can be found on their excellent LP and appearances on compilations. Here, you get an utterly faithful, melodramatic cover of ol' mafia eyes, tuned down to sinister, chugging along to a trusty garage groove. Some top notch "do-do-do-ing", too. "Murder U.S.A." takes no prisoners, a high speed rip through enough high-quality tunefulness to have topped the charts in twelve countries, bopping hard enough to have won a nobel prize for fearsome bopping. Except the latter prize didn't exist, and the former event mysteriously didn't happen. Lord knows why. I blame the generally cementheaded record buying public. Honestly, if you don't take anything else from here, take this. You won't regret it. You couldn't regret it. Regret would be a ridiculous impossibility. You'd probably end up coming round my house and thanking me. I'd put the kettle on, break out the garibaldis (or possibly fig rolls), and we'd get on like a house on fire. Then I'd have you arrested for being a weirdo internet stalker. But regardless, GET IT. You know where it is. I'll return to the Volcanoes when I get round to the album. Did I mention you should get it? Whet your appetite. You'll be gagging for the album in no time flat.

Various Artists - Medway Powerhouse Vol. 1 (Hangman; 1987)

1: Thee Mighty Caesars - I Self Destroy
2: Thee Mighty Caesars - Black Elk Speaks
3: The Del-Monas - I Feel Like Giving In
4: The Prisoners - Happyness for Once
5: The Discords - Second to No One
6: The Milkshakes - Ida Honey
7: The Milkshakes - The One Eyed Git
8: Auntie Vegetable - The Train Kept a-Rollin'
9: Auntie Vegetable - Fire
10: James Taylor Quartet - Be My Girl
11: The Daggermen - Ivor
12: Pop Rivets - Kray Twins
13: Pop Rivets - To Start, To Hesitate, To Stop
14: The Gruffmen - Hard Lovin' Men

Okay, so the tracklisting dwarfs the album cover. Sorry about that. All the more reason for you to do some vinyl detectorating and part with some cash in the worthwhile pursuit of the joys etched into its mesmering grooves, innit? The most ronseal of albums. It's a powerhouse, and it's of Medway. They're all here - some of them more than once (definitely cheating there, Mr. Childish). You got the punky garage clatter of thee Caesars, the rockin' and rollin' and twangin' shambles of the 'Shakes (as nobody calls them), you've got the firstest and bestests ladies of the Medway (I'd choose the 'Monas over the 'Coatees (as nobody call either of them) any time you put a gun to my head and made me) - singing in French no less! - you got the no nonense guitar attack of The Discords, you've got the utterly peerless Prisoners misspelling their way to the nonsensical garage-psychey-pop witterings about fish in hair and sweetcorn in beards that the Small Faces could only dream of achieving. You've got everything indeed. Including the masterpiece that is "Ivor", by the lost and lamented and very much missed Daggermen. Find the whole of "A Quick One..." by the Who a bit of a mouthful? Too much to digest in one sitting? Then why not just take the closing segment and turn it into a clattering beast of a perfectly formed and preserved pop masterpiece? Why not, indeed? The Daggermen did, and for that the world is forever in their debt. Billy paid tribute to the Daggermen, covering this in the process as part of the Buffs. He couldn't get anywhere near. Only on Krave On! by the Kravin' "A"'s (uncoincidentally featuring a Daggerman) was such sheer, riotously joyous pop nous recaptured. Well, that and a load of other songs I love. But that's the closest and most pertinent example, believe you me.

If all that doesn't get the juices flowin', then you're probably already dead.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

It! The Terror from Beyond Space!

IT! Reaches through space! IT! Scoops up men and women! IT! Gorges on blood! IT! appears to be a man in a flimsy lagoon-creature style suit. With unconvincing pincers. And there's nothing more disappointing than unconvincing pincers, believe me. Relax, I'm sure I'll run out of these at some point. Then I'll be really stuffed.

Another cranium-churning triple-header for you tonight. A snippet of the billy, a silverside of the blubber and an unholy cocktail of the trash. In that order. Order is very important. Especially in restaurant.

The Meteors - Johnny Remember Me (ID records; 1982)

A1: Johnny Remember Me
B1: Wreckin' Crew
B2: Fear of the Dark

There's really no middle ground with psychobilly record covers. You can count the amount of times you look at one and think "hm, it's alright, I suppose" on the fingers of a particularly unlucky leper. One who lost all his fingers in a haybaling incident. Or possibly a card game. Regardless, they're pretty much always either really quite fantastic, or particularly dreadful. This one teetered on the brink of the former, prior to belly flopping spectacularly into the latter. I mean, look at it. I'm guessing that's the head of Johnny, right there. Lady (or possibly P. Paul Fenech) is offscreen to the left, airing her thoughts. Yes, it's the thought bubbles that tip it over the edge. Very classy. She thinks in capitals, how singular. My copy has 10p scrawled in biro in the thought bubble, sets it off a treat. Of course, these were the pioneering days of the limited edition picture disc (I'm not entirely sure how limited an edition "just about every other copy you see" is, but still), and ID Records and the Meteors certainly didn't shun the opportunity to add the final piece of the poo jigsaw. Don't believe me? Google it. Or, better still, look slightly to the right of these typed letters:

See? "Johnny, remember me", "firstly, I'm the Meteors, not Johnny, and secondly I'M IN A FIELD". But of course - potential forgetfulness = squatting in a field! It's not even symmetrical, you marvelous music purveying goons! It's one from the pantheon of Pan's People style interpretations for picture discs. "We need a picture, for the disc. Y'know, the limited edition picture disc", "what song is it?" "Johnny remember me", "how's that go? play it to me" *song plays* "when the mists are risin', when the rain is fallin', and the wind is blowin' cold across the moor..." *eureka moment* "OF COURSE! quick lads, let's go sit you in a field, there isn't a moor nearby...". Tch, really.

Of course, all three of these songs are readily available elsewhere (this compilation, that compilation, the other compilation), so why would you be interested in this? Well, it's direct from lovely 7'' vinyl, SUCKER. So therefore, it is clearly much, much better. Besides, it's nice to remind yourself of one of P's (P? P. Paul? Mr. Fenech? Stupid name if you ask me) most accomplished vocal workouts (one of the few times you don't find yourself wishing that it had been handed to Nigel to sing/that Nigel was still in the band to sing it), on one of the most pleasing of all the interpretations of Joe "shotgun in your face" Meek's masterpiece. The b-sides rock along like complete bitches, too. Fear of the Dark, in particular, gives me the musical horn. Get it now, cementheads. You know where it is.

Blubbery Hellbellies - Flabbergasted (Upright; 1985)
1: Hootin' and Howlin'
2: On the Other Side
3: Food Poisoning; 4: On the Trail
5: Moved Away; 6: Eraserhead Baby
7: Pig Country; 8: Broken Man
9: My Baby, She's as Fat as Me
10: Make the World Go Away
11: Prehistoric Plateau

Not really psychobilly as such, but the connection is sufficiently untenuous (and the record mighty swingingly fine enough) to be included here. Cowpunk, without the punk. Cowpop, Cowbilly. Hillbelly. Porky and Western. Whatever.

First full lengther (hurr) from the 'Bellies (as nobody calls them), following on from the recorded-in-a-drain mini-debut "At Large" the year before (a fine record in its own right, despite the audibility issues, graced by two fine covers - particularly Green, Green Grass of Home). Criminally overlooked then, abominably ignored now, it's a splendid slice of chubby musicianmanship. A handful of solid, stetson-friendly solid gold steer classics, and a supporting cast that is entirely easy on the linedancing ear. Ignore the fact that Boz Boorer had something to do with it (despite the fact that he wrote "My Baby, She's as Fat as Me", I still heart it to bits). Stand out highlights of an all round meaty and solid album would be the opening "Hootin' and Howlin'", the aforementioned "My Baby, She's as Fat as Me" ("my baby drink a bottle of gin / she goes to a dance and the floor caves in" - a jaunty little swingin' number that never outstays its welcome), "Eraserhead Baby" (the start of which always makes me think of "Spirit in the Sky" and, by the end of which, I'm perennially left with mental images of something with no arms or legs, but the face of a sheep) and my particular favourite, "Food Poisoning", a moving musing on love and food with a hint of the Boring Bob Piranha to the vocals ("it's not Claire Rayner I need to see / it's the public health inspector I need").

Whilst nothing on this or the surrounding albums comes close to the majesty of their cover of "Champion the Wonder Horse" (no great crime - little in God's splendiferous musical creation does), this is still a mighty fine album deserving of a place in your collection so thus I entreat you, clicky in the commenty linky and toast the glory of the chubby genius that is and was the Blubbery Hellbellies. Last I heard, one of them was in a band called the Bacon Grabbers. How much better can it get? The urge to run to a field to devour a cow whole and then shout yee-ha! is almost irresistible. Yee-ha! *belch*

The Vibes - Inner Wardrobes of Your Mind (Chainsaw; 1985)

A1: I Hear Noises (Extended Trip Version)
A2: I'm in Pittsburgh (and it's Raining)
B1: Scratch my Back
B2: Hasil Adkins in My Head

This is the 12''/mini-lp effort, not to be confused with the naturally much shorter 7'' released at the same time (it wouldn't be that easy to confuse them anyway. They had different artwork, were called different things and had different songs on apart from "I Hear Noises". And even that was a different version). I can't shake the nagging feeling that I've got the sides mixed up (possibly betraying an unconscious urge to give prominence to which of the sides I played far more often - get it, unzip it, load it, stop making sexual innuendoes and play it - by sweet toasty moses will you agree with me). It matters not, we still have THE prime slice of the best thing to come out of Essex since the person what drew that picture I have up there (the inclusion of this Vibes record is a nod that-a-wards. Give us a wave, Andy). Sure, the "Can You Feel" EP that preceded it and the "What's Inside" album that afterceded it are records that most bands could only dream of achieving, and are bound to have their advocates, but I am in no doubt that this is the best thing they did before they morphed into the Purple Things. Why? Well, I'll tell you.

It just is, right? Let's get the slight downsides outta the way (ugh, the Vines must have crept and crapt into my mind. Shitty little gimps). They aren't the Stingrays, and Gaz isn't Bal. He thinks he is, he wants to be, but he isn't. Wild, but not wild enough. Bal's uncontrolled control is/was a one off, you couldn't have another. Nor do they have anywhere near as many quality songs, and their name wasn't as cool. But. Oh, and but. When they got it right, by jumping Joseph of the Christ family did they get it right. Plus, the dirty great fuzzy reverbathon of a guitar appeals to the guttery garage side of my brain whilst the clickingly splendid slap bass really tickles my testicles (sure the Stingrays had the bass, but the guitar was nowhere near as dementedly sleazy). Following the pattern, let's have the slightly weaker side first. "Scratch My Back" is a pleasingly stompy stomp through pastures well grazed by primetime Cramps, with largely incomprehensible squealing about backs and scratching. "Hasil Adkins in My Head" is both a similarly pleasing grindy grind through very much the same grazing grounds and also a very scary prospect indeed.

Good, oh yes. As good as the other side? Oh, no. Firstly, you have the cod-eastern not-quite-psych noodlings easing you into the freshly extended sofabed "I Hear Noises", soon turning into a funkily rumbling slice thumpingly garage menace, with Gaz showing how much better he was at being Gaz instead of trying to be Bal. Still very nearly a Cramps tribute, but now it's Psychedelic Jungle Cramps played live and fucking loud in an acoustically optimised toilet. Then you have the slimy jewel in the record's thoroughly filthy crown, one of the best covers in the history of coverdom, the Vibes ingestion, digestion, cogitation and regurgitation of The Outcasts "I'm in Pittsburgh (and it's Raining), from all the way back in Pebbles Vol. 1 times (well, a decade before, obviously. But you get what I mean). Quiet bits, check. Suddenly loud bits, check. Shimmering then clattering trap-rattling, check. Massive fuzzout guitar freakery, check. Wild piped Gaz at the top of his Gaz game with a minimum of Bal, check. Absolute riotingly head-destroying 200 seconds of perfect garagey sewer-ooze? You betcha fuckin' fat ass, cementhead.

If you don't get this one (clicky, linky, commenty), I've coming after your ears with bacon scissors. And then I'm feeding them to the 'Bellies (as still nobody calls them).

You have been warned.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Crawling up from the depths, to terrify and torture!

Okay, so I'm pinching all these titles from 50s sci-fi horror film posters. Today's is from "The Monster that Challenged the World!" (it neglects to say what it challenged it to. I'm suspecting it wasn't a game of darts with the nearest to the bull throwing first), and yesterday's was from, obviously enough, "The Creature Walks Amongst Us!" - a film starring Jeff Morrow and promising "All New Underwater Thrills!". The mind boggles, but only slightly.

A bumper triumvirate of psychotrash, coffintastic psychobilly and genuine classic unbeatable psychobilly/garage. We'll do things in that order - a strong opening, a meaty middle and an end to end all things.

Bananamen - The Crusher EP (Ace; 1983)

A1: The Crusher

B1: Love Me / Surfin' Bird

Bonus! - Psychotic Reaction (from Revenge of the Killer Pussies compilation)

More Stingrays in disguise, but this time all of them and not just Bal (although one Stingray is much better than none Stingray. Unless the Stingray in question is the e-numbered overacting tit on Neighbours). t'Bananamen and Ace records really pushed the boat out with the pretend sixtiesness of this, complete with fake record label "Hava Banana" suitably styled across the middle.

The pretend sixtiesness extends to the opening moments of a violently wonderful take on "The Crusher", with a faux-yank "Okay Bananamen - let's go!" and closes it too with a deadpan "very nice. Next". In between, various shades of hell break loose with Bal going for it like a thousand clones of Lux Interior combined with a liberal splash of Hasil and the Legendary Stardust Cowboy all crammed into one truly wild set of pipes. One of the most invigorating ways to spend 1m48s. Unless you're rubbish at the sex, of course. The remainder, considered on its own, is pleasingly vibrant and helter skelter. But, taken straight after "The Crusher", it can't help but dip. It's just so perfectly formed, unprocessed, wild and, frankly, sexy. The other track to emerge from the Bananamen sessions - "Psychotic Reaction" - is included for the sake of completeness. It's all good, and they make a firm fist of it, but it's never really been a favourite song of mine, whoever performs it. So I'll just listen to "The Crusher" again. I suggest you do the same, forthwith. Linky in the commenty.

Coffin Nails - Fistful of Burgers (Link; 1988)

1: Penetration; 2: Please Little Woman; 3: Come Back to School;
4: Trust in Me; 5: Heartbreak Hotel; 6: For a Few Burgers More;
7: If Your Mother Could See You Now; 8: My Baby Left Me
9: Coffin Nails; 10: Saintly Snails (Blubbery Love);
11: Loose Woman (She's a Moose)

The 'Nails (as nobody calls them) second offering and, to my mind, their best. Original singer buggered off after the debut album, so guitarist Humungus stepped up and realised he was a much better frontman (even if he couldn't spell rite gud). A slinking menacing groove to open which also manages to raise a chuckle or two (although by the end you can see the rhymes labouring their way over the horizon a mile off, it doesn't matter) whilst entertaining musically with a stomping riff part lifted directly from "You Got Good Taste" (which was hardly the most groundbreakingly original song in the first place).

Don't be fooled though, this is no comedy record (the wit, for want of a better word, persists throughout mind). They rattle through an entire set of minor Psychobilly classics, each graced by and laced with strong vocals, rumblingly solid drums and a bang-up stand-up bass. It's a strong mark of the album's quality that the one cover, the oddly lifeless "Heartbreak Hotel", is the noticeable low point of it - which is quite something coming from me. As anyone will tell you, I'm a confirmed coveraholic. Some days, I find myself drinking upwards of four bottles of coverahol a day. As eponymous title songs go, you'd have to walk a long and fucking tiring mile to find one more rocking than "Coffin Nails" (it tires me out just listening to it) and, as should always be the case, they save some of the very best for the very last - strolling off into the sunset with a Loose, Loose Woman (sort of a spiritual cousin to The Sharks' "Hooker"). She's a MOOSE!

Tall Boys - Island of Lost Souls b/w Another Half Hour til Sunrise (Big Beat; 1982)

A1: Island of Lost Souls
A2: Another Half Hour 'til Rise

Rising from the ashes of The Meteors (who weren't actually burnt, and continued quite happily and productively for many years without him), the genius of Nigel Lewis emerged, grabbed bandmember Mark Robertson and became the Tall Boys. Well, to be actually frank, honest and truthful, he became the Escalators first, then the Tall Boys. But although the Escalators were a fine incarnation and will get their own post in due course, I prefer the Tall Boys (I pretty much prefer them to any other band, although this changes on a daily basis) and it's my blog, so I'll be taking the wholly inaccurate poetic license. Also, P. Paul Fenech makes a damn fine guitar appearance on the second of the two songs. And both songs were featured on The Meteors compilation Teenagers from Outer Space (which, for some reason, doesn't include the mighty "Teenagers from Outer Space". Why? Why do bands do this to me? Name an album after a song that isn't on it? I can't put my finger on why, but for some reason when this happens my goat is well and truly got). So the whole ashes/rising thing was a complete waste of time. Still, I've typed it now, so it's bloody well staying.

Nigel is on rare form on this. The only man on earth who could make shouting "HEEELLP" like a terrified lobotomised docker (whilst not looking wholly dissimilar) sound sexy. Another Half Hour til Sunrise is the riproaring soundtrack to a thousand unmade zombie films. Both songs are the germs of the Tall Boys strong b-movie feel and whilst this is more obvious in the title of the other song, the overtones are strongest in this. It rattles, rocks, rolls, reels, ravages and several other things, many of them beginning with the letter "r". And does everything perfectly. Not a note out of place, not an ounce of energy left unwrung. Well, nearly everything. I might be being a little picky, but over the course of the last twenty years, the lines "somethings are best left alone / the lady in the bookshop said / even Jesus had more sense / than to try and raise the dead" have nagged away at me. THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT MR. JESUS FICTIONAL CHRIST DID, DUDE. The whole Lazarus thing. I mean, he was probably only actually asleep, but according to the plot of that Bible book, JESUS RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD. Rising lazarus-like from the dead. Sayings like that wouldn't exist if Jesus hadn't had a stab at necromancy, Nigel. Sort it out. Still, one of the finest songs in all God's wonderful creation (I'm hedging my bets after that last bit).

Island of Lost Souls is no poor cousin. My favourite of the two is liable to change on any given day. A lovely, lolloping, bouncing bassline leads us through the song by a very happy nose. It lulls you into a false sense of security, building in intensity almost unnoticed, the pleasant, almost hawaiian guitar lines playing counterpoint to an increasingly powerful bassline underpinned by initially understated drums that punctuate the songs crescendo of a final minute. The whole thing is a vague, slightly blathering musing on mutants, humans and humanity, but it doesn't matter one tiny bastard iota. The song is a stonking behemoth of music, and none of Nigel's lyrics get the Bible wrong. Biblically accurate linkomment below.

So there you have it. Or rather, them. Presented for your musical and literary edification. I take requests (of the musical variety, not of the kind that request places I can shove my witterings), so feel free.