Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Starline Rhythm Boys
Live At Charlie-O’s World Famous
www.cowislandmusic.com

This ecstatic fire-cracker is about all you’d need to convert that snivelling, snide creature with ears ever-cloistered to the gorgeously glorious straits of country music, even the pious alt.country ‘expert’ who a few short years ago woulda been bereft at Shed Seven’s demise, crying it’s all tears in your beers clich├ęs and my dawg done died drivel. Well, fuck that, I mean, this is honky-tonk, sluice-gates unleashing the strains of desperadoes serenades, outlaw country from Bakersfield to the bluegrass mountains, Tennessee twang, heaven-hailing harmonies outlining devilry and despair. Amidst a whole bottomless-barrel of fun and fret-stained strife Al Lemery and Danny Coane lead the evening through a tasting session where you savour, swallow and swig various shades and stripes of western wear and tear and mixtures thereof, letting a plough roll through bakers dozens of bar-raising jags that never waver in their fertility and unflagging exuberance. Convalescent heartache balladeeros, wry rockabilly, drinkin’ tinkerin’ with the thinkerin’ as the train sidles past as you drink up, scuffed-cuff slouchers and skirt-spinning swingers all sizzle in this slew of covers - some of which you’ll be acquainted with on yer travels (I’m A Lonesome Fugitive, You’re Still On My Mind, Chuck’s You Can’t Catch Me, Johnny Paycheck’s Heartbreak, Tennessee, Faron Young’s Wine Me Up and Waylon Jenning’s Lonesome, On’ry And Mean) - and originals like She Don’t Live Here No More, Drunk Tank and hat-tip to the venue Charlie-O’s, all easily as well-pressed a set o’ shirts as their more fabled bar-chasing compadres while matching em drink for drink. This is party-lined honky-tonk not to close up but to stride on into, one HOT hot band with timbers to kindle the wettest Saturday night. Joyous and utterly stunning, makes you wanna hop a flight, spin, swear and pray and bear such witness folks'll be scratching their heads. Now, ain't that testifyin'.
Stu Gibson
Labor Party
Hellhound Down
www.steelcagerecords.com

‘Drive 6 hours in the pouring rain to play to 2 bar tenders and a cat with a cane’ – Show To Do

Praise be. Nope, not any political posticulating about presidents elect and defect, climate change or global eco-chafing this particular Labor Party show outlaw Rock’n’Roll ain’t hitting no recession. From the motel fetish cover to the highway surfing, white-line raising, tarmac tyrants, this Arizona trio revel in unexpurgated glee at the view from the gutters on this unassumingly strident salvo of garage crank-punk. There may be no fucker putting money in their pockets but no snide bastards spoon-feeding their words and they can’t get enough of that, and neither should we. Luckily then, this is their fourth album in six years, and drop this and you see why. Praise be part two as rousing beer anthem punk like this can so easily resemble the most turgid tripe from the dregs of UK Oi, or, well, most Oi, in lesser hands. Like The Cramps could say in imitation of Dolly, it takes a lotta smarts to be so simplistically perfect. But these low-rent, low-slung fun-gunners got the bounce, the swing n’ vitality full of sassattitude, fun and hell, crazy cutes, mounting their manifesto’s on trashy but tight banners of bedraggled, genuine, affecting, good time, goof-trash anthems for outsiders and underdogs in the know not on the nod. You can user this as a yardstick to measure posers by, but beating ‘em with it’d defeat the point. I ain’t advocating vio-lence, just stick this on again and jump, jive n’ jape like a baby penguin while the suckers sequester themselves into a jail. Underground Christmas, Lower East Side Yuppie, Major Matt Mason, We Don’t Want To and Show To Do all rattle round the universe and your backyard like a frantic Fuzztones running outta tonic for the gin – the last a road song in the same sweaty leathers as The Weaklings’ Life On The Road or Murder City Devils' Ready For This, glorying in the sublimely grim acceptance of the life and times of such a low-level, high grade band. No tepid posturing and tantrum-throwing poses but get down and on with it grinds in a playpen that’ll make you bite n’ scratch n’ scream many a night. N’ day. While providing most of the recommended daily allowance of essential vitamins and nutrients to spur anyone on with a healthy necessity for being whipped into several states of seizure on the unadulterated Rock’n’Roll rifle range. Right, let’s end the verbal there as by the time I’ve calmed down with some country they’ll hopefully have recorded another readily edible honest to goodness set.
Stu Gibson

Flash Metal Sucide: Halloween

Halloween
Don't Metal With Evil
Motor City Metal Records
1985
Price I Paid: $6 for 1998 cd re-issue.
Worth: $100+ for the original LP and maybe throw in several bags of candy

"WHAT A NICE PLACE"

Detroit, home of Ford, Chrysler, the NBA's Detroit Pistons, NFL's Detroit Lions and Motown. My old man loves Motown with a burning passion and is always bangin' on about how he's gonna visit Detroit someday or if not, Egypt. He fuckin' loves Egypt too, but that's another pointless, boring story that has nothing to do with what I'm eventually leading to, so back to Detroit. Now, my father does like his rock, he spent years traveling the world in the Merchant Navy (the manly navy!), listening to Deep Purple, Sabbath and picking up weird Vietnamese Santana albums whilst being all manly, scoring with chicks in smoky bars and catching sharks with his bare hands. His first musical love though was soul music, Motown in particular. Over the years I have seen him peel open his bashed up, blacker-than-black wallet and part with what was clearly stupid wads of cash in order to purchase 1 track singles or 2 track test pressings, which he has never played and then regrettably sold on at a loss. I totally understand that nostalgic need to possess rare, original musical artifacts and to pay over the odds for that album you just had to have, but most of the time you end up with half an hour's worth of steaming crap recorded in a bucket. In my case anyway...

I will admit that I take my consumerist, Heavy Metal mission to extremes. I've often had a pathetic two-figure sum sitting in my bank account, with next to nothing residing in my cupboards or refrigerator and gone out and bought a stack of LPs with whatever chump change I had left. Yes, welcome to my world where the sound of machine-gun guitars, glass-shattering vocal chords and lyrics about; how dark the night is, how the fire burns and how you've got to fight for the rock, takes precedence over eating and generally staying alive! I have splashed the cash on some trash indeed, the Only Childs/Tokyo Blades and Jag Wires of this world, but I finally have a gem to really praise and rant about! Halloween's 1985 opus "Don't Metal With Evil".

"Trick or treat/Face defeat/Give me something dead to eat!"

Detroit has given birth to many bands over the years; MC5, Stooges, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, the RamRods, the Colours, Trash Brats, Syrant, Corrupt, Almighty Strut, Teezer, Trauma, Seduce, Madam X and Halloween...Halloween officially formed in...surprise, surprise, October of 1983 after working the local circuit for about a year as Bitch. The band actually announced the name change live on stage, in the middle of a gig. They had already been using their now infamous tag of; "Detroit's Heavy Metal Horror Show" well before deciding on this new moniker. Halloween was comprised of: Brian Thomas (vocals), Rick Craig (guitar), George Neal (bass) and Bill Whyte (drums) rounding out the band.

These guys had- and still do have - one heck of a show! Brian Thomas and his horde of zombie metalheads decorated their stage sets with cobwebs, candles, cemetery gates, pumpkins and whatever else local moms, dads, kids and strippers probably donated to 'em. (Yeah, I know it's all been done before and Overkill and W.A.S.P. were doing all that demented shit back then, but these dudes have never given it up - so respect is due.)

The band had a kind of Motley Crue/Alice Cooper/Witch thing going on with regards to their overall sound, albeit much heavier than the two. In the looks department they matched pretty much what you heard and saw on stage - appearing like a demonic version of The Sweet after they'd been locked up in a mental asylum for butchering their 14yr-old teeny-bopper, stripper girlfriends!

Oh, they use plenty of pyrotechnic tom-foolery too! Apparently, back in the early days a flame projector went off under vocalist Brian Thomas when he was onstage, mid-song.
The guy is so bad-ass that he proceeded to do two more songs and THEN seek medical treatment! He used to wear painted skulls on his face and being oil-based, the skull design burnt onto his skin! How fucking Metal is that (!)? Also, if that wasn't painful enough for the guy, he lost bits of his hair and ended up with melted spandex stuck to his legs! (Eat your heart out Nikki Sixx!)

"I tried to warn you/stay away from hell...
It might be too late now/can you hear the bell"

Originally limited to 3,000 copies (LP), the band's debut "Don't Metal With Evil" was released on their own self-financed and awesomely named - Motor City Metal label, featuring song titles such as; "Scared To Death", "Wicked Witch", "Tales From The Crypt" and "To Fight The Beast". I love this album, it's one of those rare albums that I can play not having any high expectations of and then it kicks my ass right the way through with no filler at all. My favourite track by some considerable distance has to be "Trick Or Treat", with its' intro of kids walking up to a house on Halloween and the door creaking open, then bam! A spooky sonic guitar assault gets under way, backed by a great, galloping bass and drums that sound like Bill Whyte was wacking a large fish against barrels of toxic waste. The lyrics as you would expect from a group such as this are cheesy as hell, with the "look how scary we are" approach, talkin' 'bout witches and werewolves and how black the night is, how the fire's gonna burn you and that the howling wind howls....etc...etc...

It is great though, really. The production is terrible, but it's not the band's fault. They have stuck to their guns and portrayed this whole image for over 25 years, without a sniff of a major label. I've read a couple of interviews with some of the guys and they pretty much state that labels wouldn't touch the band because they didn't know how to "market them". This was a time of big hair, make-up and killer chops....err...Halloween....err....check!

No, I get it. I do. They come across as a novelty band, but there were plenty of metal bands of that decade who emerged and created their own niche, a market emerged because those bands. (Insert popular, sell-out thrash metal band here)

There was fear of confusion with German Maiden rip-offs Helloween too. The two sound completely different and who the fuck would call a band Helloween?? It's quite obvious to me what should have been done - make the Germans change their stupid name!

Halloween soldiered on and on and on, no big deal that they deserved, not even a little deal (Metal Blade would've been perfect) They never sold out though, not one little bit. They toured outside of Michigan, doing a short headlining tour in L.A., but never once moved there - no, this was a band that lived by it's own rules and said no to jumping on any shaky, fucking bandwagon!. To make matters worse, they had the second album held back. (Momentum killer, plain and simple) "Victims of the Night" was supposed to appear back in '86, it would be ten long years until the band got the tapes and put it out to their bloodthirsty legion of fans.
Other albums have seen the light of day though, dragging themselves out of the vaults and serving up; "No One Gets Out" in 1991 and more recently "Horror-Fire" released on 06/06/06 (ya' get it?) with the EP "E.vil P.ieces 6/6/6"

"We never really went away, we just kinda' fell off the radar a few times." [Brian Thomas]

Nowadays, Thomas and Neal have been joined by Shawn Moore (guitar), Don Guerrier (guitar) and Rob Brug (drums) and continue to put on shows throughout the year with all the guts an gore and still play with plenty of pride, which is why they remain true underdogs and flash metal favourites of yours truly!

Link: Halloween Official Website

Clip: Halloween's full-on amazing video for Trick Or Treat!


Buy Don't Metal With Evil from Amazon.

- Chris Humphreys

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