Thursday, October 9, 2008
Bottom of the Pops
An odd facet of the vinyl era, (when information came in drips not torrents) was the discovery of the mysterious final album. Whether it was Squeeze by the Doug Yule-led Velvet Underground, Other Voices by the surviving member of the Doors or (for good Canadians) a six pack of forgotten Guess Who albums led by the bass player who copyrighted the name after the band broke up. After flipping by such oddities, any music obsessive just had to pore over the back cover for clues as to its origins. Then, with the mystery solved ("Ah, no Lou.") the album was slipped back into the stacks.
One such mystery album that did suck me in was Attack the 1983 album by the Scottish band the Revillos. Their first album, 1978's Can't Stand the Rezillos, culled from fifties sci-fi and sixties British Invasion to make a kitsch-punk classic. The even kitschier (!) Rev-Up by the Revillos (Fay Fife and Eugene Reynold's re-named version of the band) from 1980 with its trashy covers, jungle drumming and shared vocals almost sounded like a punk B-52's - but good. So I snatched up the unheard of (by me) Attack, laid down $10.00 and took it home. No sooner then it hit the turntable, then I went ‘Huh?” With it’s ultra-thin production and glaringly empty performances it sounded like it had been cut in tinfoil not vinyl. I taped the two good songs and sold it back at a loss.
Skip ahead twenty years to yesterday, when, after a re-listen, I bought the CD re-issue. It turns out that the Attack l.p. was nothing more than illegitimately-released, badly remixed demos . (Perhaps letting Venom's Kronos man the board had been a mistake.) In fact, the band had actually had the album recalled, hence its obscurity. So now we have a whole new product, with different (or re-mixed) versions of each track on the album as well as contemporaneous singles. The production, while still shiny, has new strength and these versions highlight the sheer joy of these cultural dumpster divers as they gleefully steal from Tamla-Motown ("Bitten By a Love Bug"), Cramps-ish rockabilly ("Graveyard Groove"), the British invasion ("Tell Him"), Phil Spector's girl-groups ("Midnight") and that mid 70's bubble-glam (most everything else). On top of all this you can pore all over Rocky Rythm's liner notes, which (sort-of) unravel the mystery of this album and detail the band's Joe Meek like production tricks with verve and humour.
So go and buy the albums (Can't Stand, Rev Up and Attack) but here for a blatant plug is the original "She's Fallen in love with a Monster Man" single (the same as posted here - thanks for the idea - but with a studio version of the b-side).
P.S. Check out the video for "Monster Man" here.