Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Throw Rag

2nd Place
Acetate Records

Throw Rag are veteran LA scenesters, veritable gods-among-hipsters who have boiled under the surface forever with their combination of snake-handling death-country, balls-out rawk and Cramps-ian pukeabilly. This tasty slice of psycho-Americana is chock-full of washboard-scraping shanties like the charming Bag of Glue and Johnny Big Nuts that will have you dancing around the trailer with a bottle of lighter fluid in one hand and a match in the other. They’re like the Supersuckers with emotional problems.  Bonus live cuts too, just to show off why they pack ‘em in every night.

- Sleaze

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Record Heaven

Buzzing Swedish stoner-rock, dipping freely into the Sabbath well to accent their psych-tinged mini-epics of melody and fuzz with moments of gone-blind heavy-osity. Unlike a lot of pot-pounding knuckleheads these days, Blowback is pretense-free, uncomplicated, a zillion miles away from math-rock. They simply turn that shit up and groove. Dig the deep, loping Living or Yesterday is Gone for prime-examples of their free-flowing craft. It’s music for afternoon couch-naps. I take a lot of those, so I’m into it, man.

- Sleaze

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Erotics

Trash Pit Records 

Mike Trash has a new band of scoundrels backing him and a fistful of battering new hell-rockers like Terrorize You and Get Away From Me Motherfucker that stomp all over the  semi-power balladry of  their previous 30 Seconds Over You LP and reveal Trash’s inner-GG Allin. While most bands slide into some form of respectability over the years, our man Trash has gone exactly the opposite  way – the Erotics haven’t sounded this evil for nearly a decade. Classic, mean-spirited sleaze-rock.


- Sleaze

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dead Hookers

The Burial/The Rebirth

This looks exactly like a stoner rock record, down to the spaceman font and the psychedelic skull inside, but it ain’t. Which is not to say that weed wasn’t involved. Probably it was. But it sounds like lots of bad chemicals were involved, as well as a bunch of wounded childhoods and maybe a lengthy psyche-ward stay or two. The Dead Hookers are from Wisconsin, the serial killer capital of the world, and they play frightening vomit rock that sounds like Mudhoney trapped in Hostel 3. Muted guitars, screaming, dirty fuzz, the works. It’s nasty garage-scuzz rock scraped right off the sewer floor. The title suggests a concept album. I’m guessing the concept has something to do with smashing you in the nose and leaving you naked and freezing. Crazy, man.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Blacklist

Total Blacklist
Drug Bust Records

Stunning, call-the-cops riot rock that really does sound like it's trying to kill you. It’s everything you expect from Australians, only even scarier. Like the Road Warrior and Razorback in one raging madball of psychotic rock n’ roll. Personally, I know that I cannot possibly live up to a song like Death Cheetah of Death or Ice Titan. I’m just not that bad-ass. You, however, may be up to the challenge. If so, pick up Total Blacklist immediately and then hurl yourself off the nearest roof. If you manage to get up afterwards, you deserve to be a Blacklist fan. Fucking incredible.

Blacklist Website

- Sleaze

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tommy Rivers and the Raw Ramps

December Records

I bet Tommy Rivers wears really cool shoes, like those Italian jobs with the buckles, and I'm almost positive that he smokes his cigarettes with style. Tommy's one of those rare cats that exudes an easy rock star charm, and I'm sure that every Saturday night in Memphis you can find him in some sleazy rock dive, sauntering around with his dressed up/messed up mop of hair, flowered shirt and jangly guitar, a big friendly smile on his face, and plenty of stories to tell. If ever there was a cult hero waiting to happen, it's old man Rivers here. Tommy's got the sympathy and the taste to name his band after T Rex's best song, and luckily, they live up to the boast. They play soulful ballads and semi-acoustic sleaze rock and bliss pop and melancholy glitter folk. There's talk of lost loves and found friends and plenty of Sunday morning-coming-down odes to the perils of rock and roll decadence, and they even manage to slip in a heartfelt Christmas song, and it's all drawled out in Rivers' gentlemen rogue croon. He sounds like a Southern Nikki Sudden soaking in a rainy afternoon, or a moonshine swilling Tyla, or maybe a dixie Westerberg lost in a sea of scarves, with an ace band of gypsies, tramps and thieves backing him up, like the Black Crowes without all that hippy jam band jive. This record isn't even new, by the way, it's dated here as being from 1998, but you and I both missed it first time around, so it's making the rounds again, getting a second chance to shine. And it does, baby, like a diamond.

- Sleaze

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Butch Walker and The Black Widows

The Spade
The Butch Walker most of us got acquainted with was the power pop, anthemic rocker from Marvelous 3 who knew his way around massive hooks and the formula for hit songs. Since trying and unfortunately failing commercially with songs for himself that ended up being massive chart toppers for Pink, Avril Lavinge and Fall Out Boy, he’s stripped it back quite a bit and sounds more like Jesse Malin or Ryan Adams then the Warrant/Def Leppardish style he had for the M3’s “Ready, Sex, Go” album or even his first solo effort “Left of Self Centered.” “The Spade” is probably about as close as we’re gonna get to vintage Butch, specifically the song “Summer of ’89” which single-handedly makes the record worth buying. It’s not his best, but it’s far better than the melancholy approach to the last few. 6/10
-- B.J. Lisko

Michael Monroe

Sensory Overdrive
On his latest solo effort, Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe is back with all the swagger of his heyday. “Sensory Overdrive” is a hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll record full of big choruses and includes some of his best material in years. “78,” “Superpowered Superfly,” “Later Won’t Wait” and “Modern Day Miracle” are full of grit, glitz and chalked full of melody. Other moments – “Bombs Away,” “Got Blood” – are punk and fresh. Lemmy makes a cameo on “Debauchery As A Fine Art” and the track chugs along like a fist-pumping Motorhead anthem. The slower numbers including “All You Need” aren’t quite ballads but are heartfelt and as catchy as Hanoi’s best numbers. Whether his old band gets back together remains to be seen, but if they don’t, Monroe solo more than fills the void. -- 7/10
– B.J. Lisko

The Hookers

Horror Rises From The Tombs
Green Mist Records

Just when we thought all hope, life and light has vanished, The Hookers rise again after reuniting from an eight year split to bring even more piercing, pitch-black darkness into the B&W leather color scheme across the crusty punk/metal wastelands. Horror Rises From The Tombs is compiled of 12 ground and grave breaking new releases and 3 live bonus tracks. Kentucky born and bred, deathly live and freakishly undead, these decomposed, metalhead outcasts have really outdone themselves with this mighty sheath and heathernly, swift sword comeback stabbing down the throats of innocent bystanders who have yet to get with their 17 year program. The R'NR Outlaw took a walk through long periods of darkness with other side projects, such as, Blade of the Ripper and bounced back full of blood and scraped knuckles to form the underground, cult classick, Brothers of Conquests, only to find his true origins once again with the heavy metal, thunderous monster he brought to existence in 1994. 
Long term side effects resulting from listening to Horror Rises From The Tombs include; drum punctured, ringing ears enough to drive a steer of diseased, cattle mad; harshness in throat from screaming to the top of your lungs to "Crypt Of The Living Dead"; shortness in breathing from getting sucker punched from "The Clock Strikes 12"; blurrred vision from drinking to "The Lying Witch"; goosebumps from standing, "At the Grave Of Stoney Tombs"; Dizziness from thrashing your sweaty hair in your face upon hour on in repeating, "Black Past:". Grinding teeth and windblown hair from blasting, "Two Wheels"; Unnatural high from clinching this entire album in your hands to hold and have with you until the end of time. 
The more and more you steer and drive this under your record player's needle, the more and more you realize its not recommended for the weak at heart, stomach and reality period. Eat Hookers! Breath Hookers! Shit & puke Hookers 'Until the Day you Die'

The Thriller Memorandum

Various Artists
Cherry Red Records

This brilliant compilation of spy jazz and crime surf and secret agent fuzz and dangerous curves had me checking the dashboard of the Mazda for the hidden button that launches the stealth rockets out of the rear bumper. What we have here is the swingingest sounds from obscure spy thrillers and TV shows and exotica records from 1962-1972 all cleverly packaged in one easily concealed, pin-striped, silencer-fitted hip flask of retro-cool. It would be quite the impossible mission to mention every highlight on this absolutely necessary collection, but some of the many choice cuts include the flute and vibes driven slow burner "Yes and No" by Des Champ, the midnight creeper "Ghost Squad" by the Tony Hatch Orchestra, which consists of one lonely whistler and a skeletal jazz band, the Spaghetti western meets surf city guitar and bongo frenzy of "A Night With Nuki" by the Brian Marshall Orchestra, and the funeral band goes Bossa Nova swing of the "Penthouse" theme by Johnny Hawksworth. There's also some easily recognizable tracks on deck, like "The Saint" theme by Edwin Astley, "Live and Let Die" by David Lloyd and his London Orchestra, and "Mission Impossible" by the Mike Hurst Orchestra. Man, I feel cooler just typing all those cats' names out. Listen, if you're not down with go-go dancing dragon lady Kissy Suzuki, you better pick up the Thriller Memorandum, but quick. The dossier included will explain everything, just make sure you destroy the evidence before the Reds or the Pinkos or somebody gets their filthy mitts on it. Martinis and buxom Siberian double agents optional, but encouraged.

- Agent Sleaze


Wolfsbane Save The World

I’m not really sure where to begin here. It’s been such a long time since I’ve heard a true album. Not a few good songs here and there with the obligatory filler, but an honest to goodness rock ‘n’ roll album start to finish. A record that not only gets you off your ass and swings and moves and energizes with the god damned passion that made you love music in the first place, but also completely reasserts your faith in the rock 'n' fuckin' roll that got you completely addicted to begin with.
Wolfsbane, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, titled their new album “Wolfsbane Save The World.” I’m here to tell you it ain’t no joke. From the opening guitar of “Blue Sky,” all the way to the haunting and huge “Child of the Sun,” to album closer and a single they released earlier in the year “Did It For The Money,” this album was almost two decades in the making and somehow Wolfsbane has made it worth the wait.
Singer Blaze Bayley’s true passion may be heavy metal, but on here is positively charming as he croons and sings with swagger belting out very melodic hard rock ‘n’ roll with complete ease. Wolfsbane have always had that tinge of Roth-era Van Halen and a trace of Black Crowes, but Van Halen and the Black Crowes never wrote a record this good. How bold of a statement is that for you? And while “Teacher” may strike even more similarities to DLR, Wolfsbane takes the rock further, the melody further, the backing vocals further and the songwriting further, too. “Starlight” and “Illusion of Love” are positively anthemic. So much so the latter sounds like a punked-up version of "Bat Out Of Hell." The hooks on both will give you goose bumps, the hair on the back of your neck standing up just long enough before they slam you back to the womb again with slamming riff-raff, stories of being born in the “Smoke and Red Light,” and that “Everybody’s Looking For Something Baby.” Every song sounds like it could be a set closer, building and building with immense anticipation before completely crashing over the top and ending in spectacular fashion and fanfare. Wolfsbane has just written the record of not only the year, but also of their career and quite possibly everyone else’s too. Motherfuckin’ 10/10
– B.J. Lisko

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Only a Suggestion

There are more than a couple moments on "Only a Suggestion" where I'm convinced that this is the greatest fucking rock record I've ever heard, and the only thing holding me back from heading over to the nearest tattoo parlor with a xerox of their hog nose logo right now to have my devotion inked into flesh is that Hermano- that's "Brother" to you, gringo- isn't actually a real band. I mean, they're not cartoons or anything, they're just more of a side project than a do or die army of rock. Caught in some kind of unholy contract quagmire with Rick Rubin and his American Records saboteurs, John Garcia had been forced to put his post-Kyuss Uber Rock band Unida on hold- but the rock must roll on, so Garcia slipped in through the backdoor a couple of years back with some heavy friends- including Steve Earle (Afghan Whigs), Dave Angstrom (Supafuzz), and Mike Callahan (Disengage)- and after trading rough demos on the road for a few months, got it all together for this mammoth riff fest, a one-off Super Rock jam session with no other aspirations than to kick out the jams, brothers and sisters. So there's a good chance that this is not only the first, but also the last Hermano album, since everyone's back with their primary gigs*. But hey, we could all get hit by a truck tomorrow, so who cares what happens next, because what's happening right now is that a bunch of like-minded die hard rockers with talent to spare got together with a big sack of million dollar riffs and said, with all religious seriousness, "What would Ian Astbury do?" If he wasn't so worried about his retirement fund, sweating out the piss poor sales of "Beyond Good and Evil", and quitting the business in disgust for the hundredth time, he'd be rocking the fuck out like he's supposed to, full tilt and with wild abandon, just like Hermano does here. That's right, it sounds like the Cult. Sounds like Unida and Supafuzz too, and for the duration of its 8 supersonic odes to bad drinking and good times, it's absolutely perfect. I've heard rumblings of discontent from the stoner rock faithful because Hermano ain't as sundazed and liquid as their heroes Kyuss and Queens of the Stoneage, but you know, those people are on drugs. All I can tell you is that "OAS" is blasting as we speak, and I just buzzed the doors of a state trooper doing 85 on the turnpike, and I'm laughing, baby, because I'm so drunk on full throttle heavy ass rock and roll that I don't even care what happens, and isn't that what we're all here for in the first place? Sure, this Hermano trip is Only a Suggestion, but so's keeping an equalizer in the glove compartment. I'm assuming you know what to do next.


*It was not. They made a couple more. -Sleaze

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brand New Sin

Now or Never Records 

Kris Weichmann, one of Brand New Sin's 3 (!) guitarists, reckons that this album is like "The first drink and alcoholic takes after walking out of rehab; it feels fucking great." Take it from a guy that's had that drink a dozen times, he's telling the truth. BNS are from upstate New York, although they've got enough Dixie in them to trade licks with COC, which it sure sounds like they're doing here. The sound is pure Southern riff and roll, the same white trash biker metal choogle that Isabelle's Gift and Gonzalez have mastered, only BNS have upped the ante with the triple threat axe grinding and the kind of over-amped production usually reserved for heavyweights like Ozzy or Priest. The sweaty, boozy thunderboogie comes thick and fast, wrapped around meaty hooks that boil around in your brain like bad ideas that won't go away, and the rousing choruses are prime fist pumping, Saturday night hell raiser material. There's plenty of slide guitar and a few moments of outlaw country-tinged power ballads on deck, as well. Christ, they even look like trouble. I don't even have to mention Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, or Halfway to Gone, do I? You really can't find a more authentic slice of heavy ass rock and roll than Brand New Sin, brothers and sisters. Highly recommended.

- Sleazegrinder 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Devildrunk Leer: Me n' Tyla

Here's a wee drunken reminiscin' ramble...

...that I posted to the Dogs yahoo groups list back in June this year after someone wrote in about a gig they saw somewhere in London (Highgate, I think it was) when Tyla had a wee violin player (as on Spike n' Tyla's Hot Knives track 'Lost in a Crowd Of One') that I added to, pulled apart, and sort of better-ised, a bit. What results is a few salvos of wine-scented scattershot salutations to a few of Tyla's solo gigs...

....I don't remember that particular gig, and before you start thinking "What's this stoopid twat writ in for then?", I saw Capt T in Wolves (The Varsity) with the violin player, have some great pics, even tho on a shitty £30 camera, twas I believe November '96, so yeah Libertine era gig...T, as is/was his wont, coming on dressed to the nines, ending up shedding his marvelous purple (or was that last Dogs tour '94? - shit don't get me started on that bout of heartbreak, maybe it was black then, yada yada) long kinda frock/western duster coat probs after the first song....oooooo, let's scratch those dusty brain cells...yup in tradition handed down by his own hand, twas 'Last Bandit'.... and then waistcoat, and shirt soon after, (well it's hot up there and a man's gotta flash his tatts)....seriously stoned (or newly recruited and just concentrating very hard!) bassist with him, who even managed to break 2 bass strings - I had a bassist did that once but this fucker was a pro so all due this gig T was seemingly and unsurprisingly full of speed (kept headbutting mic stand - try it - it fucking hurts!) and at end of set jumped, literally, on that gorgeous fucking Gretsch White Falcon. Some people with a lot of you's here, we know not just how beautiful they are but how much they fucking cost. I will admit I fucking walked off at that (only to the bar, but I was seriously disgruntled....fuck yerself up, but leave the bloody guitar alone...hey, hey, all in all it's his, and he still seems to have it, 'less we've all helped him buy another!...and back then they were a bit cheaper than now...yawn sorry to be ananorak....late night n red wine n all)....can't remember set lists and so on and really who cares, of course he played 'How Come It Never Rains' and 'I Don't Want You To Go' at the end, interspersed with other such classics and what was then newer stuff....'Ballad of a Broken Heart' and so on. I think it was at this gig that I managed to actually miss the opening barrage by choosing precisely the wrong time to take a piss but there we go.

Also saw T at a hotel in Wolves that may have been called The Underground (the venue, for it was a basement bar, not the actual hotel) that was a small acoustic gig in '95 perhaps....beautifully set up, candlelit tables etc etc...T's relatives (I dunno and don't really care but mum, sister, auntie?) seemed to be there, doing the merch, T played a fucking blinder after we'd not seen him/heard owt for a while - since the abortion of The Dogs last tour in summer '94 (only a year but time seemed to last longer then) where he played an acoustic set and I think The Dogs only managed about 2 songs - y'know the way he raises those shoulders and wheezes out some dynamite jet poetic raptures, exhaling the embers of memories and dreams shrouded in smoke and stale red wine, cocking his head to one side to get the note out, the lights conjoining with the shadows cast by his hat and dancing around the dimly lit room to give an almost devildrunk leer to his features. Was truly great, relaxed and intimate, apart from me and my aforementioned mate, Max, almost got in a fight with a bunch of kids sat behind us who kept saying loudly to each other "Do you think he'll be sick during this one?", "I saw the Dogs once and Tyla collapsed, it was soooo funny". Things like that. Kinda the usual, like arseholes on message boards complaining that Tyla was better when he was as near to death as the length of a drape coat as he is sober(ish), forgetting that this is someone's life they're living, not a cartoon crutch for your vicarious pleasures.  Dicks, T had a case of Chateaux Neuf or however you spell it and spilt half a bottle, either through missing the table when putting it down or just knocking it with his arm when playing his guitar, then they burst into laughter...we were like 'Fuck you.' Oh how funny. Having said that tho, it was pretty damn cool that he can just call to his tech to go get him another bottle. After the gig, to his great commendation, T walks over and sorts things out, like 'There's gonna be no trouble don't care what it's about'...we just thought and I still fugging do for such "die hard" Dogs fans to laugh at him spilling drinks etc etc is sick. The age old Thunders thing on the In Cold Blood book "Yeah yeah I'm gonna die tonight...." and they all cheer, blah blah. I also unwittingly managed to nick Tyla's pint, being all poor n stuff I mineswept a lonesome pint from the bar then the big guy wanders over, proffers a puzzled look and enquires as to who indeed could jolly well have had the bare faced cheek and tenacity to nick his pint. I owned up, but he let me keep it and bought another....musta been a good gig....I also asked him to sign something for me which after a quick scraffle thru my pockets turned up a bank statement which he turned over, looked at, grinned, and said something like 'Shit, you haven't got much money have you?', in the odd, old man's almost Burroughs-esque nails scraping a blackboard gait he sometimes adopted. He also asked where I'd come along from, and extended his thanks politely when I said I'd traipsed along from Manchester. Then he didst wander off somewhere and I did too, probably thanking fuck that he didn't kick off for keifing his pint!
At this gig tho, the man himself wandered over to a few tables after it all had died down, things were being tidied away and people were trailing back onto the streets of Wolverhampton, us included - the last remnants as ever, and muttered in his Sarf Lahnden / Deep South America by way of the English Midlands Texas Drawl "We off to get pissed then?". "Errm okay" replied we. Who's gonna say to the guy, 'No, thanks for asking anyway, actually got an early start in the morning, so I'd rather not go for a beer with your friendly local Dog idol'. Went up to the hotel bar, our T put on his best politest 'I'm really a poet' voice "Would you mind staying open for me and my friends, I've just played a gig downstairs...." and dumps a fucking huge roll on the bar. "What we having then?" "Tetley" says I, "What are you from facking Yorkshire or somethin?" says our hero, "Yeah" says I. Erm, listeners, that was about the sum of our conversation! I fell off me stool at one point, oh me gooawd, don't do that in front of your idols, okay it was (o' course) "Darn't warry mate I always do that too!". The only other piece of chit chat I recall was him regaling us with the very long telephone number type figure which was (is?!) what he owed China Records...something from the half remembered haze suggests £347,856. When there were few fags left amongst the small group, he gave us his keys and bade us go upstairs to his room and get a box, a box of 200 fags, that is, not a pack of 20 like in the UK. Brilliant! Either he was too pissed to care which I rather doubt or he was in a jubilant mood (ecstatic at been back in Wolverhampton perhaps?), or just lazy, but I remember being impressed at the time that he'd trust people to venture into his room with all his shit in....well, Jack (that put paid to the scandalous rumours of the time that he'd been professing to have quit the spirits....tho he has now so he got there in the end. Maybe he got sick of drinking with idiots from Yorkshire who asked him if he'd fancy selling his hat and quit soon after) and a very nice hat, which I recall in stupid drunken fan mode asking if he'd flog it. Not a good idea! Naw, he was polite about it, while probably thinking 'What a twat!' ha ha.

Are we bored yet? I'm having a right old whale of a time, itching ma brain...saw T at York Fibbers, I think sometime like 2000, also great, less boozed, very self deprecating, almost like a fucking stand up show, obviously in great spirits as it were, again acoustic. Tyla meets Tony Hancock bumping into Frankie Howerd at the bar "Ooooooo noooooo, no Jack for me". A kid - no, not me, literally, honestly not me this time - kept shouting for "Wait Till I'm Dead" (obviously methinks a great song. I never saw THATmany Dogs gigs being 12 when Dynamite came out and I first heard the devilish lil barstads, but I don't think they played it live that much, correct me if I'm wrong - and if you've been arsed to read this far!

Awwwww, bless you if you have) and at the end T just laughed and goes "Fack, haven't you gone home yet, mate? I aren't facking playing it!". Some others kept on asking for 'You Can't Put Your Arms Round A Memory' which he didn't even bother to comment on. Silence being louder than words and all that. Should really be able to remember more about this particular gig seen as Max drove down so in a spirit of brotherly stand-togetherness I joined him in only drinking the legal 2 pints (I was probably also woefully skint but hey,) but I can't. Mr T came out for a pint afterwards but this time we declined to bother him, jesus, he probably never knew how lucky he was! I'm sure we heard him call for a lock-in too...just our luck as we weren't fucking drinking. Probably karma from the events in Wolves.

I've see similar things, another gig in Wolves, again Nov 2nd (almost like an annual Tyla day in Wolverhampton back then it seems. I think they should do this. Have a local bank holiday, but then Noddy Holder and the otherSlade boys might get jealous and want their own, too. Just cos they had some hit singles tsk, cheeky blighters, then that twat who did Babylon Zoo would come slithering into view, desperate for another chance at a come-back), perhaps '97 this time, acoustic and T paused during 'Satellite Kid' after the first line - I always recall this to people, mainly people who've never ever heard of The Dogs let alone Tyla and therefore think I'm not all there, maybe I'm not, but Rock'n Roll sounds like heaven to me, so I  know which universe I prefer - so yeah, he pauses and I pushed to the front and shouted A G or D, whichever it was, and he just stuck his thumb up, and went something like "Shit, cheers" and carried on! Kinda like 'Kirsten Jet' - gimme an Eeeeeeee...Went to this show, again with Max, but also with a chum from school, Mr Alistair Foy, who wasn't, by any means, a Dog lover. I think he liked things like Chris Rea or something, and he's a lawman now, so it seems likely. Anyway, the sarky so and so amused himself by making observations that Tyla sounds like Rod Stewartand voicing loudly the fact that the songs all use the same a hall full of partisans I kinda tip my hat, or hair, to that lack of concern and care.
Endured Ginger's godawful  cacophonical Clam Abuse cataclysm too, to watch Tyla support at Manchester's Band on the Wall in summer '99, the last time I saw him I think so maybe the York gig was actually '97 or '98....anyway I thought he gave a very disinterested, half-hearted performance...for Tyla to play and wear very boring togs - plain black leather box coat I recall - seems to suggest this to this cat....almost like well it's a short half hour support, it's Ginger's show (if you could call it that) so I'll play a few things n fart about n fuck off with ma drink banter (that I guess the luxury of headlining gives), just a perfunctory trawl through some Dogs classics and 'The Only Girl...' off his then pretty recent 'Nocturnal Nomad' album. I was miffed tho that he didn't play 'Johnny Silvers' despite me shouting myself hoarse for it, which I informed him of, to be rebuffed with a (true) 'I can't play everything'. True, but you could pop in a request. However, my mate Gaz disagrees and thinks the old chap was on top form that night, so maybe I'm wrong or he's just not as discerning as me....I'm sure we'll keep on discussing it over beer n bruises for times to come.

& in T's bestest Ian Hunter voice, or just plain old Honest Ian Hunter voice...
That's aaawwwllll. Bless you all!

-Stu Dynamite

Friday, November 11, 2011

Venomous Maximus

These guys just sent me their new EP (on purple wax!). You can get it here. I would, if I didn't already have it. It sounds like Vitus, if Vitus were witnessing a UFO crash on their lawn. I'm into it. Makes me wanna kill chickens and guzzle their blood.

More later. Hail Satan. Amen.
- Sleaze

Zombina and the Skeletones - Taste the Blood of...

Opener "The Grave...and Beyond!" starts out sounding just like Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy", and then flows seamlessly, and impressively, into what I can only describe as a bubblegum Misfits track. Then "Nobody Likes You When You're Dead" kicks in, sounding like that chick from the Primitives fronting a pop metal Archies, or whatever the undead version would be. To be honest, I really have no idea what's going on with these teenage zombies from beyond the UK, but I do know that this is one of the coolest pop records I've heard in ages, maybe ever. I mean, we're dealing with an entirely new formula here, which was surely concocted in some mad scientist's lab, and it's got everything from Spaghetti western gunfighter guitars to spangly Brit powerpop to sugary-sweet girl group harmonies, and it's all wrapped up in a groovy ghoulie package. The picture stamped on the CD- a bowl of fruit loops floating in either blood or chocolate, perhaps both- sums it all up perfectly. Goddamn, I love creepy girls.

Zombina official 

 - Sleazegrinder

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tiger Mountain - Get Along Like a House Fire (2005)

Get Lucky Records

A tasty batch of mellow yellow from ex-Brought Low fuzzking Dean Rispler and his jangle tangle of crackerjack NYC drawl n’ rollers. With two vox-ists on deck (Mike Jackson, Tyler Linane, doing double-duty as the twin axemen), there’s plenty opportunities to lay it on heavy with the soaring 70’s harmonies, and they do not miss their marks, reeling in the choruses like the tousle-haired sons of Sweet and stopping just short of the Bay City Rollers on the woo-hoos. That’s not to say that TM are chewing bubblegum on this ‘un though, as the tuneage they offer is more along the lines of late 70’s Stones – urban, streetwise,  sophisticated, mature.  Dig the lounge-y vibes and confessional croon of “Good Lie Down” or the country-fied inner-city blues of “She’s Played Me Too” for a cuppla prime examples. Still, there’s a definite glitter rock influence bopping around in this House on Fire - closer “Cut the Darlings” flairs out like an elephant bell cuff into full-blown arena-glam,  and “Superintendent #9” is like, the Sladest the Rolling Stones ever got, so choose yr illusion. Overall, this trip to Tiger Mountain is definitely quieter and more introspective then their debut, 2002’s Analog Heads Gone French but hell, we all gotta mature, right? Well, not me, but most of us. Anyway, if Spacehog didn’t completely blow it back there somewhere, this is pretty much what they’d be up to now. Classy stuff.

- Sleazegrinder

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Dexateens - Red Rust Rising

Estrus Records

A jarful of cowbell-heavy, banjo pickin’, Suthin’ blooze-rawk straight outta Alabama here. S’funny that the Dexateens are on Estrus Records, home of the single-with-a-swizzle-stick, since they sound like the kinda fellas that usually beat-up smart-ass garage punk bands* , not share stages with ‘em, but like all great rock n’ roll gospel outfits, the Dexies stretch their faith healing arms wide enough to touch everybody. While their debut, self-titled rekkid (released in Jan ’04) was a more straight-ahead sock to the face of shitkicker rock n’ roll (I described it, at the time, as “Georgia Satellites slowly running out of oxygen”), this one’s more blues-y and jammy, full of good time, back porch, pickin’ and a grinnin’ stuff. It’ll probably leave the yankier Yankees among us in the cold**, but my guess is that drawling whiskey sippers like “Can’t You See” and “Pine Belt Blues” weren’t written for be-fanged black leather Frankensteins from New York City or Boston anyway. So, ya know, if you’ve got an  affection for breezy, good-ol-boy Dixie rock, this oughta sound just perfect blasting out of your pick-up. Mule train. Whatever ya got.

*Yes, I realize they are skinny, non ass-wrecking garage rockers themselves, but that's where the delicious irony come in, see?

**that’s a climate joke.

- Sleazegrinder

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Bones - Straight Flush Ghetto (2009)

Liquor & Poker Records
The fuckin’ Bones, man. Sexy Swedish motherfuckers. “Straight Flush Ghetto” was released in 2009 on German stoner-sleaze label People Like You, but Yank glitter-rawk upstarts Liquor and Poker snatched the US rights, and here it is again, this time with a bonus track (“The Chevy Devils”) and a video for insta-hit “Do You Wanna…”, to make it special. The video won’t play in my car, but I bet it’s bitchin’, and it’s probably got lots of chicks and explosions. As for the Bones’ signature sound, it’s a nearly perfect combo of 50’s Memphis hip shake, tough-as-nails street punk, and Swede nu-sleaze. It’s like 5 different flavors of ice cream in one cone, all of ‘em indescribably delicious, and not the slightest bit nutritious. The songs are so goddamn catchy you’ll think you wrote them yourself during your last week-long vodka binge, and they are infused with enough honest-to-Christ charm that you won’t even mind being so shamelessly manipulated by their earnest, heart-on-their-sleeves lyrics, and their rabble rousing, chant-along choruses. Not a bit. Best bets to keep the all night party rocking are probably the Hanoi Rocks-meets-the gutter punk n’ roll rave-up of “Railroad Track” and the snotty arena-powered pop of “Not a Lovesong”, but hey, this is the American version, baby, so you are totally allowed to pick your own favorites. I dunno from poker, but if a “Straight Flush” is a winning hand, then they have definitely got the name o’ this one right.

- Sleazegrinder 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Flash Metal Suicide: The Barracudas

The Barracudas
Complete EMI Recordings
1991, EMI

"Soda Rock And Bubblegum Roll"

To those of us of a certain age The Barracudas may perhaps be best remembered for their smash hit single 'Summer Fun' being the soundtrack to kids summer (funny that) school hols TV. Huge waves of backing vocals swelling into a gloriously irresistible flow causing kids all over the world to spontaneously rush out and jump about in parks in unremitting glee, while their parents organized street parties and village fetes. But before I get too Stevie Wonder all creeds united under a Barracuda banner and get too carried away already, it is an absolute pop gem, like a Phil Spector orchestra production, using an entertaining old ad for the Plymouth Barracuda at the start, puts a huge blast of air in your lungs, causing you to surge around on seabreeze adrenalin...Plus, it's far more effective than Alice Cooper's 'Schools Out', as it actually gives you the same rush you had as a kid when school was, well, out. As well as the same feeling that hit you, ooooh, about three weeks before term time finished. All in the space of about 3 minutes too. Goofy surf obsessed garage dudes? Yup, maybe. Genius? Ohhh yes. However mundane and deadening it is it's never quite the same effect when you're leaving work but play this and hit the high summer head on and if you ain't smiling then you're more of a miserable cynic than me. Christ tho', what do we have now - a flaming frog ringtone and in the early 80's it was garage popsters The Barracudas! Aaaaah, the bliss of curmudgeonly old age.

I don't actually remember this programme at all, as it happens, but others my age do. I think this is because I was always bundled out of the house to play in order to make use of the pitiful British sunshine and not 'be cooped up inside all day'. TV was a no-no when you could be doing more useful things. (Such as sizzling in the sun?). I didn't agree then but I kinda appreciate this approach now. Then I'd end up smashing a football angrily against the kitchen wall, being annoyed thinking of all those lucky kids that are watching mind-numbing shite on the tele. That's maybe why as a semi goth teenage idle I developed a dislike of blaring heat which I still have tho' I kinda appreciate the sunshine.

However, I aren't saying that being forced outside into the blazing heat is any reason for falling head over cuban heels in love with The Barracudas when I was passed a tape of their 'Complete EMI Recordings' back somewhere around summer 1999, appropriately enough. I think I'd only first heard of them a few years before on a drunken night in Manchester's Grand Central where we somehow, now lost to the mists of time - tho undoubtedly one of those people who answer the desperate ads you put up in music shops for singers and such like - were in the company of a chap called Ian, I think, whose favourite band, he kept telling us in between bouts of transcribing English things into Flemish ('Dutch Pancake House' - 'Duutch Paancakka Huuusa'. Thanks, man), were The Barracudas, coincidentally enough, else that would have been an even more pointless interlude than it already was!

Anyway, so I was passed this cassette and how blown away was I? Blown away enough with these slightly kooky tales of surfing paradise, sultry sunset nights down on the strip with car groupies interspersed with melancholic moments where they realized they were living in London in 1979/1980 and not, as they so wished, California 1966 or thereabouts, to sit down almost immediately and write a song called 'Wipeout In The Rain'. No, not that it's the prelude to a tale of riches and regal splendour. Merely a way of emphasizing the all-consuming brilliance of these recordings. Such that I took the surfing idea and mixed it with Manchester's rain in the summertime vibe...or reality...incessant reality (Oh noooo)!...I loved that song at the time, as you do when you've just written something you're pleased with. Tho' on listening to The Barracudas as I write I think that's because I nicked most of the melody and structure of 'Surfers Are Back' too. And some chords. I just added a fairly weak chorus instead of 'Surfer's...' 'Surfer's Are Back - And Here To Stay / Surfer's Are Back - Won't Go Away' gangland Glitter Band yelp.

Whoops. Oh well, a lesson learned. Pinch an idea and make it better, not worse. Go West and squander, young man. I don't recall much of that time, partly as it was a while ago and I had a fondness for cheap-shit Scotsmac (an insidiously toxic mix of wine 'n' whisky), tho' I was living in some squalid dump in Manchester's lovely Whalley Range area in some state of despair and disrepair, almost literally kicking dead leaves against the wall, and The Barracudas tape was on heavy rotation being impossibly cheerful, (and it also had Murder City Devils on the other side!) yet having resonance too in the more downbeat songs, which we'll come to in due course. Hell, I just dug it, loved it, how much more scholarly can you get? I aren't Greil fucking Marcus. As is my wont I loved the mix of dumb, tho' knowing good natured humour, the nods to their heroes, the sorrowful sad songs, the energy they managed to cram into these roughly recorded relics. Sheer Rock'n'Roll spirit, pure and simple. A glorious tilt-a-whirl ride from surf city to teenage laments, and a few spots inbetween.

'We Don't Have Any Boards But We Really Don't Care...'
One of the reasons this is just so good for the soul is the sheer endearing, grin inducing lunacy of a band
based in central London, or well, anywhere miles from the sea, and thousands, if not ten, away from California, coming along intent on proscribing surfing as THE way of life. Classic. That they then were able
to effortlessly infuse their music with this same lunacy and spirit makes it a winner. Singer and founderJeremy Gluck (himself from Canada, which at least starts with C, but isn't exactly noted for it's surfing supremacy) recognised the need to present a unified image to the media (not for nothing did he have a job as a journo, and still does, I think) so picked a surf-centred image thru a love of The Beach Boys and other assorted 60's pop and for the fact that nobody else had done it before. Tossed it about in a dinghy on a stormy sea with some garage-pop-punk, a slight overdriven Stooges squawk and a dorky tho knowing Ramones sonic surf assault...And whaddya know big boy, it worked!! A treat. For about 5 minutes. But
whaddya expect, l'il gyal? After a few problems finding the right rhythm section Gluck (who'd come to London after recognising the emerging punk scene there as something akin to the 60's garageland) and Robin Wills recruited drummer Nicky Turner and bassist David Buckley to the ranks of the boardless hoards and they proceeded to demo before signing to EMI, hence these recordings. Their early sessions, as featured here, bore the surf-orientated songs, such as the stomping squall of 'Surfers Are Back', that has one of the greatest lines of all time, except for the heading above - 'There ain't no scene for surfers / That's no reason why we shouldn't wipe out', and it's a gloriously mindless rampage from the opening 'COWABUUNGGA' to the closing rejoinder 'Look out London - here we come' as though they're using surfboards as weapons stood there all scrawny and starving like an even more confused Monkees, having beached themselves in England. Frantic, chaotic rollers of guitars breaking into 'Waaaa-Ooooooooo' backing vocals sending the adrenalin rush of surfing surging down your spine (I imagine - Manchester's not much cop for surfing either, duude) as the vocals hang just so, faltering perilously as the cling onto the waves generated from Nick Turner's chirpy drums smashing headlong into the cheerleader chant of a chorus. Sublime.

'Chevy Baby', who's 'always true' to him as he has such a cool car; 'His Last Summer', a kind of a 'Dead Man's Curve' for the waveless London crowd, an early afternoon cocktail of '96 Tears' and 'Leader Of The Pack' where the local hero takes a bad wave causing da boys a spot of introspection - 'It was his last summer and we started to think / We stopped surfin' and started to drink', 'On The Strip', where the Beach Boys fixation is in full-tilt ('On the strip...Good Vibraaaatioooons') and the stood-up, left on the pier blues of 'Rendezvous' ('Waiting here in the sun / I just ran out of bubblegum'). For all the tongue-in-cheek goodtime humour Gluck's teetering on the edge of the pier vocals carry some deceptive sentiment effectively. The lines 'Is she coming or is she late / Shall I keep on waiting - is it a mistake?..' are anguished enough to suggest it happened to Gluck only the day before the recording session. 'Don't Let Go' is a similarly frazzled up all night desperate pleas from the wee wee hours. There's also 'I Can't Pretend', which shows a deceptively sneering side, as though Gluck'd been hanging out with Stiv Bators a little too often, indeed, at times he has a Stiv-like edge to his voice tho' more earnest, much less sly and Machiavellian. signing off as it does with the sneering 'It doesn't break my heart to see you cry'. The absolutely storming '(I Wish It Could Be) 1965 Again', which is a touch misguided, what?, but a nice eulogy to their heroes and inspiration, having a great ad lib vocal riff on the end name-checking Seeds, Chocolate Watch Band and Standells songs. They crash through it (yeees, like a wave) with even more manic, frantic, energy than di played on 'Surfers Are Back'. They mean it maaaan.

'All I Got Is A Teddy Bear To Hold Tight...'
However, unbeknown to the record company, by the time these chestnuts were roasted and released the band had also started incorporating different ideas into the swirl, songs written at a similar time but radically different in mood if not in sound. Featured on debut album proper 'Drop Out With...' the tracks 'We're Living In Violent Times', 'This Ain't My Time', 'I Saw My Death In A Dream Last Night' and cover of The Charlatans Nuggets classic 'Codeine' was a step too far into melancholia for the suits at the label, who in time-honoured fashion wanted the band milked in those white surf-boy outfits they adopted around the time of 'Summer Fun' (as seen on Top of the Pops) to the last sour drop. They are the reality shot to the surreal, dreamland mythical landscape of their California seaside sanctum. Sitting on the egde of a bed in a damp bedsit in Camden Town or Finsbury Park, realising they're living in grey, drab early 80's Britain and just waking up to the unfolding descent into horror of the Thatcher years. Entering a decade of complete cynicism as opposed to the 60's superconfident, hopeful times. And Britain was a hell of a drab place back then, take a look at a Punk docu like 'D.O.A.' and it's shocking. So grey. No wonder they hit on the idea of bringing the surfing ideal and idyll over from California...they needed cheering up, dude...and starting off 'Surfers Are Back' with 'Here in London town, they're ain't much fun kicking (getting?) around / People don't unde stand you gotta live for the sun'.

'...Violent Times' is swept along mournfully, a gently reflective folksome funereal fugue with a superb hang-dog vocal, almost pastorally sat 'neath a weeping willow tree - 'Stayed in all day / I was scared of getting killed / Didn't pick up my pay / I know I'll just get bills...'. These lines could come across as somewhat pathetic, moping indie drivel, or merely stating the obvious but they are set atop some still sunny music, all chiming, ringing guitars with a nicely measured lolloping gait, and are to the point and succinct, no pretense of being all angst ridden 'n' Byron-esque. A simple theme that resonates all down the lines, and when did your favourite band do something like that?

'I Saw My Death...' swizzles along in a similar vein, suitably surreal sounding, swathes of paranoid scuzz guitar swoosh at the start heralding him waking from a speed-sleep nightmare into a Byrdsian bad-trip reality.

(An aside) - I used to have strange nightmares about nuclear holocausts and stuff when I was about 5, in the very early 80's, as it was on TV a lot. This saw little me wandering downstairs to ask my folks the positively inane question as to whether there'd be any nukes popping over tonight like I thought my Dad was a Ruskie with full knowledge of the missiles in Kiev or wherever. Maybe Gluck had similar nightmares...

'This Ain't My Time' is a fuzz feast, literally waves of it swooshing the song onwards behind Nicky Turners pummeling drums (Nick Turner was the original 'Bouncing Baby' as sang about by Julian Cope in The Teardrop Explodes. Just check out the Lords of the New Church 'Live in London / Live At The Marquee' vid for some ecstatic sat on a spike drum action.) that I could bet my shoes-I-haven't-bought-yet on that Stivney and co incorporated into The Lords 'Holy War'. Robin Wills guitar playing isn't a whole lot removed from Brian James' early Lords stuff at times either, come to think of it. Obvious to some by it's very 'out of time' title, it plonks itself wholeheartedly in garageland by way of The Beach Boys.

'Lies, Lies, Lies...'

Possibly my absolute dynamite jet rocking fave from this set is the glorious 'Campus Tramp', a hard-luck, knee scraped paean to lost love and unfelt leather, with another immense lyric...

'All the football players make passes at you - but I know better, All the football players wanna play with you - without your leathers.'

Our poor, sensitive broken hearted narrator Gluck losing out to the jocks, or football scum, because of the wiles of the campus tramp, despite the fact that, as he informs us, 'I'm broken hearted but I'm still proud / I let other boys touch her now', which is a fantastic piece of Rock'n'Roll stoicism, ahh well, show the world a shrug and hide your tears in the collar of your leather jacket, and should elicit a wry grin from anyone ever bypassed. At the start of this piece I admitted a slight theft of some 'Cuda's stuff.

I recall nicking the double-time bridge bit for this too (the 'I cried in the parking lot, cried in the classroom...' bit) Well, not nicking as such. Just tried to play a similar riff. Sounded good. Just that the song itself turned out to be a stinker.

Perhaps they reached the heights of their happy/sad surf-punk schizo sound with 'California Lament', starting with a Beach Boys 'Don't Worry Baby' sort of riff, then relating a tale of a chap boarding a plane Calif-bound with his chums - 'I always wanted to go to Californ-I-AAAAA' - in a chirpy manner that belies the nostalgia tinged melody line that steams steadily along almost resembling the inflight sound and atmosphere, detailing how he can't wait to hit the 'promised land' with its 'sandy beaches where I belong' and how he had no qualms about leaving his buddy behind. But just as they're about to land, in an eerily apt passage in this day and age - 'Then I hear the captain's voice saying something's wrong / Some fanatic has planted a bomb...Now I'll never see - Ca-lif-orn-iaaa'.

After only one album and a few singles on EMI The Barracudas were mercilessly dropped, in time honoured fashion, and left to starve, despite the odd half-hit single and relative success, being popular with the mod-revival crowd as well as the rockers (supporting The Cramps amongst others). Perhaps they couldn't have gone on much further as after this they were working on a second album, a few tracks of which saw the light as the 'House of Kicks' EP, the full set emerging as 'The Garbage Dump Tapes' in 1989. By no means a bad record, in fact it's quite good, it just loses a lot of the spirit they so effectively captured on these early recordings, concentrating instead on a more serious, darker tone heralded on the 'Drop Out...' album but, unfortunately, after numerous plays over the last few years, are about as memorable as an episode of Coronation Street. Almost like the genie flooped back into the bottle and floated off on the sea and is currently lapping about on the waves waiting for the next shore to land onto and launch the dreams of some aspiring children. Grown up ones or not.

So this remains the essential Barracudas stuff, in all its glory. The glory of new-born giraffes at times, in their inimitable gawkiness that still shows a certain grace. Every song here is a a sun-bleached, salt-water soaked paean to the power of Rock'n'Roll, dreams, a touch of fantasy and a few laughs and what the hell's wrong with that? Makes me feel powerful and full of the possibilities of sunshine and seafroth and goodtimes. Go forth, find and buy, dear people. Me, after listening to this a lot for the first time in a while I'm off onto Amazon or somewhere to get me a CD copy.


A ridiculously in depth history and interview with Jeremy Gluck is viewable HERE.


-Stuacuda Gibson

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Flash Metal Suicide: Gene Loves Jezebel

Gene Loves Jezebel
Kiss of Life 
1989, Warner Brothers 

"It's Lonesome here-there's no one left to torture"
- L .Cohen 

Not even that many all-too-grown-up-now CHICKS will own up to having once been ardently enthusiastic fans of Gene Loves Jezebel, at this point - but me, I'm already on public record as a shameless, diehard fan of everything from Dead Or Alive to Dexy's Midnite Runners, so here goes my scarve-y stroll down memory lane once again. 'First time I remember hearin' about the Jezzers was in NYC in '85 or so, back when they looked like Haysi Fantaysi, or Strawberry Switchblade, or early Culture Club on all their Jackson Pollack influenced album covers for "Promise", and "Bruises", and "Immigrant". One of the Aston twins looked just like Nina Hagen, and the other, like Lene Lovitch in that old "Don't Kill The Animals" video. All the creamy white, witchy chicks redolent of incense oils and patchouli, whom I wanted to sleep with, were digging stuff like Fra Lippo Lippi, the Cocteau Twins, Current 93, "Everyday Is Halloween"-era Ministry, Soft Cell, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Gene Loves Jezebel. Being something of a multiple rosaries wearing, showy, enfant terrible myself, I was remarkably appreciative of all this sensual, tribalesque gypsy rock coming out of the post-punk, goth, and new romantic subcultures, that was all coalescing in all those chilly, painfully loud, pitch dark nightclubs full of provocatively attired, dysfunctional gloomsters, who all convened to revel in their symbolic otherness-in a permissive atmosphere of enticingly gauzy somnolence, and droning drum machines.

Of course, I had no way of knowing the psychic toll of getting involved with a long series of melodramatic, self immolating tragediennes would eventually take on my frail little conscience someday, but back then, they were always irresistible to me- in spite of their cutting, and groupie-ing, and non-stop reenacting of childhood traumas, that invariably accompanied each of these poisonous relationships. "Love can be like bondage, seduce me once again..." (-S.Bator)

Why does the Jack Daniels soused, longhaired glam punk singer sleep with all these morbid and manipulative, violent and morose goth chicks? Because he can? I didn't know what I was getting in to. "All my witches come true/weee-ooo..." (-R.Hell)

By the time that noted Jim Thirwell-plagiarist, Trent Reznor was rewriting old WASP songs for the death scene, I was already turning alot of these smacked-out, black velvet wearing little seductresses away. They were very nearly exhausting me both physically, and emotionally, and I was just never that healthy to begin with. Some of these broads were so hot that even the other chicks wanted 'em! All the most gorgeous girls in the world were ending up in some presidential suite frolic with one or both of the Jezebels or their sidemen. This band attracted INXS or Duran quality models to their gigs. It was crazy. While I was usually extremely jealous of whatever band the girls I liked were pursuing, I was just never that threatened by these ponces in GLJ! I guess because they seemed so whacked, with the whole weird incestuous vibe, like these asexual, harmlessly euro-queer water sprites or something - they sure did sing like banshees! It was psychedelic dance music, sorta like the Southern Death Cult, or even the Cult's "Love", or the Mission. Everybody went there to dance and glimmer, posing pursed lipped in too much blue eyeshadow in our crucifixes and sleeveless fishnet, and hopefully, make a new friend for the evening.

"We were presumptuous to assume this magic would continue." (-Lee Radziwell)

One would think that the pasty, promiscuous teens of today are still probably ritualistically acting-out all these age-old rites of passage at My Chemical Romance shows, or Korn, or whoever, but I've gotten too psychologically wan to wanna pay a cover charge to lurk around like some creepy older Kim Fowley perv, living vicariously through the young people's sexual energies. There were many years when niteclubs were what I lived for, but nowadays you couldn't drag me to one if you bribed. I hate the techno, the piercings, the industrial metal, the infusion of rap, and being the old guy.

Back in my day, the Astons looked like Patricia Fields dragqueens, or Stephen Sprouse models. They were these faggy twin wisps who danced in their peculiar, flowing pajama'd fairy circles, pre-"Vogue", striking poses, and doing all these laughable, Fat-Elvis karate kicks, accentuated by their elveish battlecry of "JHU! JHU!" They were big, big stars in the 80's - no shit, kids. I have no idea how it happened*, but a generation of girls liked their neutered John Taylor good looks. They sold out concerts, had hit records, were caustic in interviews, and enjoyed massive MTV rotation!

All with their androgynous, shrieking sorcerers from Middle-Earth plastic mysticism shtick. Hilarious! Simply imagine Kate Bush as a boy, twice!

Two fey, sibling rivals in Jean-Paul Gaultier Chinese housecoats and gold lame' genie pants, lushly rhapsodizing about some waifish sylph's dark, moon-lit allure SEEMED like Roxy Music to alot of us panda eyed modern romantics back in 1986! What can I tell ya? The truth ain't nothin' but the truth. We were young and naive. I was dating (well, ok, more than one, really...) a lass insane, and anytime I did something she didn't like, she'd either: slash herself some more and end up in the emergency room, sleep with some older, more famous, silk and satin clad goth star who tied pieces of colored tissue paper in his hair, cast spells on my heavy metal girlfriends, or write me these lyrical, life threatening poetic notes in her cryptic scrawl, quoting Lydia Lunch or Diamanda Galas, or, all of the above! It got to be a bit much, and she felt much the same about me, so we both moved on to our next unfortunate partners. About every 3-5 years, I still tend to get spellbound by some new tortured siren's song, and ceaselessly continue to put myself through this nigh-impossible "relationship" gauntlet like I'm IMPRISONED in one of those damned New Order lyrics.
Addiction? Masochism? Sadism? Abandonment Issues? Chronic Depression? Immobilizing poverty? ALL THIS AND MORE LITTLE GIRL! "Your beauty has spoken with eyes that shine, my resistance crumbles, I stumble, I fall-did I ever fail you? Did I lose your confidence? To me you are remarkable-what more can I say?

These often abrasive Welsh warblers yelped all their high pitched, indian war-whoops, taking turns murmuring into the mic all these faintly Crowley-an lyrics in their keening, nasally, exotic whines about how MYSTICALit would be if all the young American goth chicks would immediately join them for an after show menage cinco in their candle-lit presidential suites: "So pack up your ribbons and get out your pearls and go along with me, I'll see you there - where the dark clouds meet - I'll meet you where our hearts can beat..." Their druggy, early sound reminded people of old Adam & The Ants, old U2, Specimen, Public Image Ltd., Siouxsie & The Banshees, and the Virgin Prunes. The "Thin Things" as the Astons liked being called, were highly INSULTEDwhenever critics compared them to Lydon or Siouxsie, or any of their Star Hits Magazine contemporaries, fancying themselves these profoundly BYRONESQUE alchemists without peer! What a larf! One critic compared their vocal stylings to Yoko Ono! All the older stuff is really well produced British goth, ala Spear Of Destiny, Southern Death Cult, and occasionally even Sisters. I particularly always dug, "Worth Waiting For". These songs all meant so much to us back when they were accompanying our first, formative stabs at courtship, rebellion, and self-reinvention. It's easy to see how these nauseatingly pompous, screeching twin wailers in their red and gold Ziggy Stardust tunics and skintight black leggings emphasizing their girlish, anorexic frames made all our more macho friends' skin crawl. My AC/DC pals were APPALLED I was indulging in all this make-up wearing neww romanticism, but it was clear that they were also begrudgingly, a bit envious, of the fringe benefits of new wave's erotic gothly revelries. "If a little bit of heartache, a little bit of heartache never hurt anyone-how come I'm crying over you" captured the pouty zeitgeist for all us little gothniks.

Deep down, I was still a bleeding heart forever pining for that one specifically unobtainable SMITHS fan and alla GLJ's colorful, lusty yearnings made complete sense to me back when my black heart beat fast in nagging anticipation of even glimpsing her comely, ethereal visage. The fact that these pretentious mime headhunters and all their Shelley-an shrieking seemed so excruciatingly otherworldly was their whole appeal. By the time "Desire" was dominating the airwaves worldwide, most every arty, young fox on the run was totally in-synch with their gay witchdoctor, neverland mystique, they were all dyeing their hair a Laupereque hue and wearing weird bells around their ankles and shit and it was all a gas, really.

James Stevenson from Chelsea, Generation X, and Glen Matlock's band joined GLJ on guitar, and drummer Chris Bell (not the Big Star guy - but former stickman for Thompson Twins, Specimen, and Spear Of Destiny) was also added to their bigtime American tour line-ip and "The Sweetest Thing" was the sonic wallpaper for many a memorable  makeout session with many adolescent Elviras in their blackened bedrooms. That album with it's annoyingly ubiquitous "Heartache", was on everyone but the most committed Metallica fan's turntables that year, bleeding into many a tough guy punk rocker, or flash metal junkie's glam rock playlists. That's still the one to own if I had to pick one. "Discover", their crassly commercial follow-up, was marred by it's high-gloss, radio-friendly, umm...Pepsi Sheen. "House Of Dolls" was smartly tailored to mainstream rock radio appealing to people who dug shit like the Power Station and Andy Taylor's "Thunder" and even I had to admit they were really starting to suck ass by the end of '87. Trite, watered down rewrites of all their vintage classics stripped of the bizarre parts that made any of it worthwhile to begin with, like "Motion Of Love" and "Suspicion" signaled their rapid decline.

The blonder brother, Michael Aston, quit the band in a fit of artistic fervor. Heartened by all the press he was reading that compared his lips to Jagger or Tyler back then, redheaded Jay overconfidently preened-on for awhile, notching one last ghost of a hit, called "Jealous", but "Kiss Of Life" was really the end for the 'Belles, as they started splitting the fanbase by feuding over the name, and both trying to play shows on the eternally lucrative goth-circuit. The Jay incarnation played a short tour with Flesh For Lulu a few years back, and I remember reading some glowing reviews of Jay's albums these past few years. Every once in awhile you'd hear one or the other of these raggle taggle black magis spit some venom at each other but JAY really seems to have wrestled the cash cow away from Michael, Apparently not so in love with Gene anymore. I haven't been moved to buy his records without Mike, but chances are, I figure, it's more or less, probably, more of the same, y'know? Beggars Banquet's re-releasing the first three records, "Promise", "Immigrant", and "Desire" and I recommend you purchase all three and a plane ticket if you've been listening to the Smiths alot lately, while getting bored with your meal ticket husband and his dumb log cabin in the woods on the other coast, if you've been thinking anything about our wonder years together, and whatever happened to your devoted boy with the thorn in his side.
"Sugar, I've been missing you, and I've been wondering, where it is you're hiding...."
James Stevenson's still in the band, but moonlights in the ALARM. I look forward to reading his autobiography, "25 Years In The Rocknroll Wilderness".


- Pepsi Sheen 

* I don't know how it happened either. I remember watching a live Gene Loves Jezebel concert on MTV during the "Discover" days, and one of 'em, who knows which one, says, between songs, "We're from Wales....and we're so THIN!" They were the most ridiculous 80's band I can think of, really. And yet, I had all their fuckin' records, too. And I'm one of Pepsi's old "AC/DC pals"! What a decade. -Sleazegrinder

Friday, November 04, 2011

Flash Metal Suicide: Tattoo Rodeo

Rode Hard - Put Away Wet
1991, Atlantic Records 

“The heavy rock stuff that’s coming out today is pure garbage.”
- Rick Chaddock, guitarist White Sister/Tattoo Rodeo, in 1987

In the beginning, there was Sister, and that was alright, because they existed mostly as a black n’ white promo pic in the ‘new bands’ section of various splotchy heavy metal fanzines in the early 80’s. Sister didn’t look any fruitier than any of the other dirtball glam bands in Los Angeles at the time, and their name had a nice ironic, self-aware ring to it. In those days, it sometimes took years before you actually got to hear a band you’d been reading about, so Sister coasted on some well-placed headbands for a few months, and life rolled on.

And then, one sunny day in 1983, Sister ran into Greg Giuffria at a gas station, and their fate, for better or worse, was sealed. Greg was the keyboard dude with the girly hair in Angel, the 70’s pop metal band with the white spacesuits and upside down logo. Angel managed to carve out a substantial arena-rock career throughout the late 1970’s largely by being the opposite, musically and image-wise, of Kiss. While space Ace, the demon, the starchild, and whatever Peter Criss was did drugs, banged groupies, spit blood and fire, and played loud, pulverizing cock rock, Angel wrote keyboard-bloated power ballads, heavy on the glammy harmonies, had feathered hair and tight white Andy Gibb clothes, and pretty much behaved themselves in public. Seems kinda dopey now (it did to me then, too, really), but people loved ‘em.

Angel’s proggy glam-lite hit hard times in the wake of the flash metal explosion, however, and they broke up in 1982. Ever the rock n’ roll survivor, Giuffria already had plans for a solo career (the humble named Giuffria band released their debut album in 1984), but apparently, one puffball ‘keyboard metal’ band was not enough for Mr. white jumpsuit. He wanted to start a whole fuckin’ army of the things. And so, he recruited the fellas from Sister, who were now going by the retarded name of White Sister, into his wimp n’ roll revolution. And Jesus wept.

White Sister got their name from a Toto song, which tells you all you need to know, really. Guffria produced their first, self-titled album, and he also gummed up the works with even more fucking keyboards. The band dressed in like, red jeans and puffy white jackets, and shit. Crazily, EMI thought they had some kinda hot property on their hands, so they released the album in 1984. A year or so later, they also released the band, as the album tanked, commercially.

Critically, however, it was a hit with the lite-metal sympathizers at Kerrang!, and it managed to garner a sizable cult-following amongst the ‘melodic rock’ fans of the day. To be fair, White Sister always claimed to be an ‘AOR’ band in the vein of Journey, Styx, and REO Speedwagon, but the label pushed ‘em onto the public as the gayest glam metal band since gay came to Gaytown, and that’s exactly how the spiked street urchins with the Motorhead back patches viewed ‘em.

Undaunted by their label woes and buoyed by their micro-success as melodic rock kingpins, White Sister went back into the studio, and eventually released a lower-budgeted follow-up album, the atrociously titled “Fashion by Passion”, on UK label FM Revolver in 1986. I know, you never knew White Sister had a second album, and that was precisely the problem. Frustrated and unnoticed, White Sister called it quits in 1987. So it was a pretty good year for everybody.

I kinda figured that was the last time any of us would’ve had to think about White Sister, which would have been fine with me, because even today, the very name of that lily-livered band makes me bristle. But a mere two years later, three-quarters of the band reemerged as a cowboy metal band with an even more meaningless name than White Sister. Say hello to Tattoo Rodeo.

Despite showing very little potential for selling records the first time, the Sisters-in-disguise managed to snag another major label deal, this time with Atlantic, who released their first album, “Rode Hard…Put Away Wet”, in 1991. Many, many people – myself included – fell for the sleazy title and the bad-ass, pirate-patched cowskull on the cover, figuring these Tattoo Rodeo fuckers were, at best, a new gang of knife-fighting biker metal motherfuckers in the vein of the Four Horsemen or Circus of Power, or at worst, a slinky blooze-rawk band, like the Rock City Angels, or Tesla. Nobody really thought it’d be a bunch of old White Sister demos dirtied up a bit with slide guitar and cowbells. Because, c’mon, nobody would buy THAT, right?

Right. All the songs on “Rode Hard…” start out all dirty and fuzzy, like somethin’ evil is gonna happen, but by the time you reach the chorus, you’re suddenly in Autograph territory.
Or Enuff Z’nuff territory. Definitely not in tattooed, rodeo-riding, 6-gun shooting Motherfuckersville, that’s for sure. I’ve bought this dumb record a few times over the years, always thinking that maybe I was wrong the last time, that maybe it’s a lost raunch metal classic. Well, it’s not. Perhaps I’ll read this first in 2012, so I can spare myself the $1.99 it’ll still be going for then.

Despite having the exact same thing happen with this band (Atlantic couldn’t drop them fast enough) a much-delayed follow up showed up years later on a tiny European label, but to be honest, I’m sick of talking about these guys already. You’d have to be insane to actively seek out a SECOND Tattoo Rodeo album, so if that’s the case, talk to your psychiatrist about it, not me.

Although I can almost guarantee that there is no Tattoo Rodeo website in the works, there is a half-assembled White Sister page. And by the way, if you’re looking for the contemporary equivalents,Waltham was the new White Sister, and American Pearl were the new Tattoo Rodeo. And I believe Greg Giuffria is still hard at work trying to be the new Giuffria.

- Sleazegrinder 

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