The Album (Anagram Records CDPunk143)
Among the many punk originals, Eater had something on their side which few others had; youth. Drummer Dee Generate was just fourteen years old, the rest not much older, when they first played live, and went on to be supported by such luminaries as The Damned and Johnny Moped.
Eater did not go on to have the stellar careers that some of the originals did, and split in 1979 after just one LP and five singles. This compilation CD has the lot, and some live tracks to boot. Opinion was divided about the young band at the time, some feeling they were standard punk fayre, some pumping them up as the true voice of the movement. However you feel about this rough ‘n’ ready artefact, at least you’ll be spared the sanitisation of remixes and remasters.
From the word go, ‘The Album’ is a primitive affair, the no-frills plicking guitar and threatening voice on ‘You’, an early challenge. ‘Public Toys’ takes on a more energetic, rangy riff, with a ringing guitar that might just have picked up a few stray fans from the Buzzcocks camp.
‘Room for One’s hard, fast, pub-rock opening, bursting into strident rock ‘n’ roll is an early standout track, in a surprisingly reflective relationship song. It’s not long before the boys are back into basic punk chug along mode, however, with ‘Lock It Up’, one which holds hints of the aforementioned stage-sharing Mancunian band.
Their totally scuzzy cover of ‘Sweet Jane’ gives the song a harder, faster treatment than might be expected from such a youthful bunch, and fails to please this reviewer, but their cover of Alice Cooper’s ‘Eighteen’ (retitled here ‘Fifteen’) encapsulates the adolescent frustration in its primal riff and does not neglect Alice’s schlock-horror overtones.
‘I Don’t Need It’s snarling delivery and dual note start-up, masks a bit of a departure, construction wise, later in the song, with a (gasp!) guitar solo being smuggled in. ’Anne’ continues the trad r ‘n’ r theme, with a decidedly Chuck Berry style riff that proves that Eater were no line-toers in the punk universe.
The nasty, fuzzy riff, heavy breathing and resentful vocal tones of ‘Get Raped’ would have won few prizes for sensitivity then, let alone today, but only make this listener wonder what future generations will make of late 90’s, early noughties rappers and their own particular attitudes.
The predictably basic ‘Space Dreamin’ holds no surprises, despite the interesting title, and the too-fast cover of ‘Queen Bitch’, which also pays scant regard to key or atmosphere is another that should possibly have been worked on more.
‘My Business’ fine opening riff, rising tune and better than usual lyrics is a strong contender for best track, but followed, disastrously, by their cover of ‘Waiting For The Man,’ its opening, a baby’s toy squawk, and its ending a sudden death playoff that comes as a merciful release. ‘My Business’ fine opening riff, rising tune and better than usual lyrics is a strong contender for best track, but followed, disastrously, by their cover of ‘Waiting For The Man,’ its opening, a baby’s toy squawk, and its ending a sudden death playoff that comes as a merciful release.
‘No More’ shows the band back on form in this driving riff, with its classic punk two-note guitar solo, and ‘No Brains’ comes on like a totally demented Beach Boys parody, achieved by a roaring vocal, ringing guitars, speeding up to a more conventional delivery later on.
The LP closes with the jokey, join-in of ‘Luv and Piece’, starting out as a Velvets-lite, turning into a wild rant.
‘The Singles Plus’ takes us on a more concentrated study of the period, the snotty urgency of ‘Outside View’ and the pointed threat of its close cousin, ‘You’ as good an opening duo as any.
‘Thinking of the USA’s churning, psyche-like riff and sneering lyrics ironically typifies punk singles of the period, and the slight echo on ‘Space Dreamin’ improves it no end.
‘Michael’s Monetary System’ leans once more into psyche-territory, albeit one inhabited by a cockney Syd Barrett with a world weary view, tempered by a no-frills cover of ‘Jeepster’, falling firmly into the ‘shouldn’t have bothered’ camp.
The live tracks, ‘Debutante’s Ball’, tightly riffed and with a typically angry vocal, is a lost gem, and together with ‘No More’, deserve a place on the punk curriculum. The slicing guitars of ‘Thinking of the USA’ complement the vocal perfectly, and the MC5 – a-like ‘Holland’ careers about like a runaway car.
‘What She Wants She Gets’ has a great 70’s riff and singalong chorus that raises it above much of the rest of the collection, and ‘Reach For The Sky’ continues the lively, rising theme, pointing toward a post-punk career path for these boys, which did not, in the event, pan out.
‘Typewriter Babies’ pitches a descending riff with great positive upturns and scathing lyrics, and ‘Point of View’s opening maelstrom of hard, driving guitars suggest that Eater may have been born a little too late for their strong, early 70’s rock leanings.
‘I Don’t Need it’ takes us back to basic punk scowling, (but it is very good punk scowling), and ends with a shaking, thumping ‘Fifteen’.
Punk’s present day mainstream status was unthinkable in those far off days of the late 70s, when the trappings of the style were enough to get you beaten up by your local Neanderthals, but it does the soul good to recall what early punk sounded like, in all its flaws as well as its glories. BUY HERE!
Planes & Never Even Thought (Cherry Red CDMRED665)
Available for the first time on CD courtesy of Cherry Red Records, Colin Blunstone’s fourth and fifth solo LPs, originally recorded for Elton John’s Rocket Records, surfaced in 1976 and 1978. The John/Taupin connection doesn’t end there, as the unbeatable song writing team’s ‘Planes’ is the title track of the first mentioned LP. There are plenty of self-penned numbers here, however.
The soft rock and country sound of mainstream mid-70’s is very evident here, with ‘Beautiful You’, its country feel fleshed out with brass and drum, and its robust beat giving a country/soul tinge to this piece of whimsy.
Title track ‘Planes’ is easily the best track here, a gentle swinger with subtle orchestration, light touch keyboard and sensitive singing by Colin, and small wonder it became a single.
‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ starts with a tense note, contrasting with the lyrics, a gentle roller with a little slide guitar, slightly reminiscent of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Dead Flowers’.
‘Ain’t It Funny’s piano backing reinforces the wry humour of this give-and-take meditation on happiness.
Dennis Wilson and Mike Love’s maudlin ‘Only With You’ is an interesting choice of cover from ‘Holland’, and benefits from the lush orchestration.
‘I Can Almost See The Light’ is another high spot, a good soft rocker with tweaked guitar sound, and a rousing chorus.
‘Good Guys Don’t Always Win’ continues the jaunty soft rock theme, this time with a hint of soul in a very free and easy treatment.
The Kiki Dee classic ‘Loving and Free’ is given a subtle string and guitar treatment and Colin’s voice handles the song well, if a little hastily delivered.
Colin’s own ‘Dancing In the Dark’s private sort of love song is wistful and nothing profound, and ultimately fails to engage.
‘It’s Hard to Say’ has flute and guitar to evoke the right atmosphere in this song of relationship breakup.
‘(Care of) Cell 44’ is a welcome return to a bouncier sort of tune with a more carefree atmosphere, and some great harmony backing that show Colin’s voice at its best.
‘Tell Me How’s galloping, plucky guitar and ‘50-‘s style harmonies make for an insubstantial closing track.
‘Never Even Thought’
‘Never Even Thought’ opens with a lightweight but nevertheless pleasing soft rock number, ‘I’ll Never Forget You’, with some good, soaring verses.
‘Lovelight’s gentle guitar arpeggio and high, bright guitar notes lay out a strolling number with a sweet finish.
‘Ain’t It Funny’s initial solemnity gives way to relaxed chords, a lush string backing and a plaintive vocal from Colin.
‘Who’s That Knocking ?’ has a ‘30’s shuffle figure to it, a sweet sax break and some ‘gurly’ vocals, but all a little insubstantial for this listener.
Title track ‘Never Even Thought’s gentle love song, with a good vocal, a light touch guitar and slightly ominous piano chords gives in to a maelstrom in the middle, leading to a surprising funky break that makes the backing far better than the actual song.
‘Touch And Go’s supper club vibe does Colin’s sensitive vocal no favours.
‘You Are The Way For Me’ is far better than its predecessor, with its exciting, bouncing beat, good chorus and lead out.
‘Photograph’ sees us back in late night club territory, all lush piano and organ, with some deft guitar/piano interplay, but the effect is largely wasted on this lightweight song.
‘Do Magnolia Do’s pumping, military beat and soulful organ work is a fine closing track, but it’s doubtful whether anyone would still be listening, after the paucity of engaging tracks on offer here. BUY HERE!