Cherry Red Album Reviews – Apr 2015 by Scenester

Rock! Wreck! & Rule!

Various Artists (Cherry Red CDPSYCHO82D)

If you subscribe to the argument that today’s pop music is so worked, honed and refined that it barely has any fun left in it, you might want to investigate the output of Cherry Red Records. The label’s laudable policy of making available a huge variety of rock and pop gems from the vaults is sure to reward you with a slice of something more interesting than the latest talent show
nonentity’s warblings.

Which brings us neatly to a collection of bands who would surely have given The Voice’s panel of judges instant apoplexy, had the show existed back in the 80’s. ‘Rock! Wreck! & Rule!’ is a 2 CD collection of 40 of the wildest, most unhinged cuts of UK Psychobilly from that long, extended silly season. Taking US schlock horror aficionados The Cramps as their model, this frantic scene, held together with generous applications of maximum strength hairspray, oozed its malodorous way across the decade of Armani suits, ponytails and synthesiser fanciers, to little chart success but with a faithful and sizeable following intact.

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UK pioneers of mutant pyschobilly, The Meteors are well represented by their ‘Go Buddy Go’ debut single, ‘Mutant Rock’ and excellent cover of ‘Li’l Red Riding Hood’, the latter two possessing a genuine air of menace in among the 60’s punk/Link Wray stylings they proved so adept with.

Demented Are Go’s ‘Holy Hack Jack’ and ‘Satan’s Rejects’ defy the rock n roll template by, on the former, wigging out into psyche-like horn and drum lunacy, and the latter, punky , bass driven stomping and some deft guitar soloing in this great, long track. Their ‘One Sharp Knife’ is surely a fine tribute to the late, great Screamin’ Lord Sutch, with its knife-sharpening intro, distorted sound and cackling vocal, a feast for the gorehounds.

The first of many lupine howls on these CDs splits the air in The Batfinks’ ‘Gonna Kill My Baby’, which also gives us, our first murder ballad, and Stage Frite’s ‘Island of Lost Souls’ shares only a title with the Blondie song.

The dusty, scratchy strut of Sugar Puff Demons’ ‘Family In A Suitcase’ gives us macabre laffs before Guana Batz’ ‘King Rat’ hits us with the mock-adolescent  vocal that would characterise innumerable ‘billies over the years. Their other two contributions, the stuttering ‘Can’t Take The Pressure’ and ‘Loan Shark’s descending pattern hint at greater things for this band, often mis-classed as goths.

The unexpected polarity of cool creep and all-out comedy fest that is The Frantic Flintstones’ ‘The Lunatics Are Raving’ is one of the more cartoonish entries here, balanced by their ‘Old Black Joe’ opening like a blues and quickly descending into a stomp. Nekromatix’ tight ‘Curse of the Coffin’ ends up like a band-wide contest to see who can finish first, but no such grumbles about Restless’ ‘Ghost Town’, the most traditional ‘billy here, and a standout track.

No Psychobilly collection would be complete without the sound of skidding cars and the appearance of custard pie enthusiasts King Kurt, who’s ‘Road to Rack and Ruin’ surely pointed to brighter prospects than the ones they ended up with. Another which shows promise, at least in the backing music side, is ‘Skitzo’s ‘Skitzo Mania’, with its daring step outside of stereotypical ‘billy beat. Following hot on its heels,  ‘Long Tall Texans’ ‘Get Back, Wetback’ comes over like an upbeat 70’s blues/rock track.

Alice Cooper would be proud of P Paul Fenech’s ‘Daddy’s Hammer’, with its sinister bass intro, weird, echoing voice and jokey mock-horror lyrics. Radium Cats ‘Pink Hearse’ is another gem, with some of the best playing on the two CDs, solos that run up and down the gee-tar neck, and a great vocal, all from a band who were none too comfortable with the ‘Rockabilly’ tag.

In among all these fervent followers of the Rockabilly Roll, The Polecats’ ‘Rockabilly Guy’ wins the prize for no-nonsense beat, great, lively vocal, rewarded with actual chart action.

Heavy on washtub bass, loose plectrum strum and hiccoughing vocals, and sporting a major obsession with B Movie horror, this random grab of material can prove a little monotonous, but if you’ve already shelled out your ackers for this, you’ve likely left your taste-o-meter at the door. It’s earthy teenage fun, and it’s yours to keep. BUY HERE!


Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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