Reviews

Big Beat

Bananamen Play Songs Made Popular by the Cramps EP

Bizarre! Who is this? The METEORS? The liner notes create a mystery, stating that this is a genuine ’60s band that just happened to do songs later covered by the CRAMPS, but I doubt that. Whatever, this modern psychobilly release definitely outdoes the CRAMPS by presenting even more frantic renditions of “Love Me,” etc. Great!

Guana Batz You’re So Fine EP

Somewhat tame psychobilly, sort of a poor man’s METEORS. Actually, it’s on the same label, which caters to offbeat ’50s- and ’60s-sounding psych bands. The GUANA BATZ do play some twangy surf guitar, though.

Guana Batz The Cave / Werewolf Blues 7″

This 45 is a vast improvement over their rather lame debut. The main difference is that there’s much more musical muscle behind their psychobilly this time around. “The Cave” is a hot guitar-picking number with screams; the other is a more traditional, less interesting track.

Naz Nomad and the Nightmares Give Daddy the Knife Cindy LP

Whoever these guys are—and they are reputed to be members of the DAMNED in disguise—they’ve captured the 1966 punk feel amazingly well, right down to the classic psychedelic “soundtrack” album concept. The numerous covers here are true to the originals (by groups like the ELECTRIC PRUNES, the HUMAN BEINZ, PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS, the LITTER, and the SEEDS), but generally not quite as good. It might prod you to pick up the real things, though.

Sic Kidz I Could Go to Hell For You 12″

The SIC KIDZ are a Philadelphia-area band who’ve been around for awhile and, despite deaths and other obstacles, have finally managed to attract the attention of an English specialty label, perhaps with the help of the CRAMPS. Their sound is indeed heavily influenced by the latter, though it expands from a narrow psychobilly base into the ’60s for inspiration. So if you like nasty, ringing guitars and echoey singing, give this a listen.

Tall Boys Final Kick 12″

Part of that unique mixture of rockabilly and ’60s punk that some modern bands are conjuring up, TALL BOYS’ blend renders a result that works. Purists of both genres might be unhappy, most rock’n’rollers will be mighty pleased. Interesting cover of “Action Woman.”

The Cramps Can Your Pussy Do the Dog? 12″

The title-track is classic-sounding early R’n’B CRAMPS, while the two accompanying cuts are either Elvis-influenced or country-blues sounding and nothing too special. I’m glad they’re still at it, but this didn’t have me bouncin’ off the walls.

The Cramps A Date With Elvis LP

The big difference on this release is that Ivy finally steps out with some clean guitar soloing, and I like it. It’s straightforward and simple, and reminds me of something, like a slightly more souped-up JOHNNY BURNETTE TRIO/BO DIDDLEY. Some real chances get taken here, and the results: their best record in years, though many don’t like it.

The Cramps What’s Inside a Girl? 12″

The title is off their latest LP, and the other two tracks are nothing to rave about. “Get Off the Road” and “Give Me a Woman” are very simple tunes, but lack any special character or zip. Like the RAMONES’ new 12”, a poor follow-up to their recent LP.

The Delmonas Comin’ Home Baby: Vol. 1 EP / Hello We Love You: Vol. 2 EP

Liner notes say these three lasses are backed instrumentally by the MILKSHAKES, though on their Vol. 2 EP (nearly the same front cover as Vol. 1), it shows them posing with their instruments. Anyway, both 7”ers are chock full of great girl-group trash…without sounding self-conscious or too pop. A delight!

The Delmonas Dangerous Charms LP

Backed by the MILKSHAKES’ raunchy guitar sound, this trio of shoutin’ femmes are a treat (except every song is about “boys boys boys”!). But in a way, this rippin’ LP is a rip itself, as eight of the sixteen tunes herein appeared on their two 7” EPs. Why??! LINK WRAY’s title track is covered with gusto, making it the highlight of the previously unreleased tracks.

The Escalators Monday / The Munsters Theme 7″

“Monday” mines a neo-psychedelic vein with fair success, though it compares poorly with the ESCALATORS’ past output and other contemporary ’60s-style bands. The real treat is the flipside—a surf-influenced cover of the theme from the Munsters TV show—which is probably a must for fans of novelty releases. Lots of fun.

The Sting-Rays Dinosaurs LP

Strange. The STING-RAYS look rockabilly, act punk, and sound more ’60s than anything else (note their covers of the REMAINS’ “Hard Time Comin’” and LOVE’s “My Flash on You”). Actually, they are a rockabilly band in the instrumental sense, with their slapped bass, snare drum, guitar, and echoey vocals, but the material is more modern. Totally ungeneric.

The Sting-Rays Don’t Break Down / Cover Version 7″

A-side is a schizophrenic ditty combining acoustic guitar with ’60s snotty punk vocals with DYLAN-esque undertones, pop melodic instrumentation, and a folky BYRDS-like break. The flip is even weirder, with more cryptic changes à la SOFT BOYS. Nuts.

The Vibes Can You Feel EP

While in the psychobilly vein that’s becoming more and more popular, these guys kick ass a bit more than most of their contemporaries. Even the slowest number, “Mini-Skirt Blues,” has got good power. Plus, they do a great cover of the COUNT FIVE’s “Double Decker Bus.”

Thee Milkshakes Showcase LP

Almost every time I go into a record store, they’ve got a new MILKSHAKES record in stock. Amazing! This, their first American release, has tracks from several of their earlier UK platters, and “showcases” their early ’60s R&B/instrumental/KINKS/Merseybeat sound at its best. Despite their self-imposed limitations, these ex-POP RIVETS are undeniably fun.

V/A These Cats Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash LP

Three modern bands that revive the roots of punk. The MILKSHAKES have that early KINKS or Merseybeat sound; the STINGRAYS belong to the METEORS/CRAMPS school of psychobilly; and the CANNIBALS hearken back to the ’60s punk of the early PRETTY THINGS or maybe the SEEDS or maybe the SHADOWS OF KNIGHT. These aren’t just copies—they reflect the genuine spirit of those eras. Great record.

V/A Four on 4 EP

One cut each by four excellent rock ’n’ roll (in the good, teen rave-up sense) combos. The MILKSHAKES, PRISONERS, STING-RAYS, and TALLBOYS all turn in crisp, up-tempo rockers with varying influences (R’n’B, psych, mod). So don’t be no “skwayer,” and pick it up.