This time Fighting Boredom are reviewing four reissues from Cherry Red, a collection of the independent albums from Hanoi Rocks, a three CD collection of the Atlantic recordings by Melvins. Another Lux & Ivy collection, this time entitled England Swings and a three CD Celebration of Yob Rock. Read what we thought below.
Hanoi Rocks – The Days We Spent Underground 1981-1984
I wake up in the morning and I feel the pain in my head, if it’s rest I need I’d rather be dead
The best Hanoi Rocks song is the first one on the first CD in this box set. Those words are what they started with and arguably also ended them. They were for me, the best band in the world for a year or so, I was a teenage metalhead and Hanoi Rocks and The Damned were what steered me away into a deeper and infinitely wider range of sound. I have all these albums on battered vinyl and I still love them. I can sing along to all of them. The thing is that what came after Hanoi, the feathered hair poodles of LA, the junkie posturing of Guns has really nothing to do with them. They gave those bands a look, not the attitude or music.
Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks is their first album and it’s still brilliant, it’s rough, scrappy and naive but there are moments that take your breath away, I’m talking the sheer, verge of collapse, glory of Tragedy. These are very much Rock’n’Roll songs with a punk edge, you get broken harmonies, saxophone and attitude. It’s great.
Oriental Beat starts with an ace groove and doesn’t really stop all the way through. The only one I’m not enamoured with is their reggae song, the rest of the album switches vibes and makes your hips swivel, the best song is the title track, sleazy, hard rock’roll punk the most surprising is Fallen Star, piano and Michael’s vocal, fragile and sad.
Self Destruction Blues is a compilation of singles and tracks released apart from the last two albums , it’s also got their new drummer Razzle on the cover but not on the music. This is where they start to bring it all together, the wasted glamour of the New York Dolls with Mike Monroe being far prettier than his voice would indicate, the twin guitars of Nasty and Andy and the bass of Sam. There are synths here and there but for the most part it’s another rock’n’roll punk fuelled ride into a world of debauchery and anarchy.
Back To Mystery City is their best album, some may say that it’s what came next on their major label debut, but they’d be wrong. This mix of immense punk and rock’n’roll and total lunacy and unhinged playfulness make this the definitive album by who were, for a little snatch of time, the best band in the world. Malibu Beach Nightmare sums up everything in the last three albums in one song brilliantly. Love this.
All Those Wasted Years is that rare beast of a live album that actually catches a band at their absolute best and spews it out for you to experience over and over. All the tracks are from the albums above except the intro and the encores, their covers of Alice Cooper, the Stooges and the Yardbirds don’t just check their influences, they give us three incendiary versions of songs we all knew and loved already.
So that’s the underground years of Hanoi Rocks, they should have been massive, stadium fillers and millionaires. But. One more album and Razzle dies in a car crash with Vince Neal of Motley Crue. The band implodes and that’s it. I could list the massive list of bands they have influenced but I don’t care. They were the best and listening to these albums again hasn’t changed my mind at all.
So, to reiterate, ‘I wake up in the morning and I feel the pain in my head, if it’s rest I need I’d rather be dead.
Melvins – At The Stake
A three disc rerelease of three Melvins albums from when they were with Atlantic Records. Houdini, Stoner Witch and Stag released from 1993 to 1996. If you are unfamiliar with the Melvins, they don’t care. They don’t care about you, they don’t care about me and they don’t really care about much except their music. Which incidentally, you can’t get loud enough until you are playing it through a massive PA. They also sound like they’ve stolen and taken all of the drugs. The narcotic lunacy runs deep inside these releases. It’s not really early morning with a nice cup of green tea music.
Houdini came out in 1993 as Melvins were caught up in the major label Seattle sound signing frenzy that was the result of Nevermind breaking the alternative rock market wide open. For the most part it’s a slow, nasty hard record. I can’t quite get it loud enough. It’s dirty and grubby and contains a Kiss cover, which Gene Simmons liked so much he joined them onstage playing it. They do get faster and they get soulful and they are just the Melvins. That’s what they are and what they do.
Stoner Witch has been cited as the best Grunge album ever, I don’t know where or by whom but they are obviously wrong. The Melvins were never Grunge or all the other labels you see, sludge doom grungy punks and so on and so on. They really were just The Melvins. This album has more strange fear and loathing in its grooves than most bands manage in their lifetime. It’s a huge album and merges psychotic psychedelia, free jazz, stoned glorious metal and even cowbells into a fantastic ball of stuff.
Stag sounds like they know that this is their last album on Atlantic and seems to be a concerted attempt to get away from them. It’s nastier and more experimental than Space Witch and sounds very much like the soundtrack to some horrific movie inside their heads. This is the best album of the three for me, essential listening.
Lux And Ivy Dig That UK Sound
Somewhere back in time Poison Ivy is sitting on the floor, surrounded by forty fives, some in their sleeves, others discarded as they are played, while Lux Interior sipping a horrendously coloured cocktail yells approval as the music plays. I can see The Cramps, en masse, descend onto tiny record stores, second hand shops and junk stores ploughing through lost and forgotten records for hours, silent apart from the gasps and sharp intakes of breath as another gem is rediscovered. This is a collection of some of those records and it’s a mixture of British Rock’n’Roll, novelty, jazz and just plain daftness. It’s wonderful.
Only one of these tracks are over 3 minutes long and there are 28 of them, I did a fifties disco once for a friend and had to have someone on drunken standby to change the song if I needed a pee as they were too short to make it there and back. But what they packed into the couple of minutes is usually ace and on occasion genius.
There is twangy instrumentals, showtunes. Groove a go go, rock’n’roll, skiffle. Bloody steamy jazz and a song my Mum used to sing to me when I was very little. Northern accents, very sexy and cool jazz. Music that sounds like an ancient science fiction soundtrack and more twanginess. There’s military drums with a ridiculous vocal. Dramatic and swinging music, sleazy and sweaty and rough and raspy rock’n’roll, there’s an Elvis slagging and to finish a bonkers instrumental that is very nearly Tequila but not quite.
It’s something to put on to confuse your friends, to enhance an evening consuming cocktails or just to get down with swinging England.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE BOOT BOYS GONE?
A Celebration Of Yob Rock
This is not what I expected from an album named after a Slaughter and the Dogs single. But Yob Rock has been around far longer than Punk and Oi! Songs of Teenage rebellion and fighting in the streets have been around for as long as Rock’n’Roll started, this is billed as the soundtrack to the terraces and back streets of 70s Britain. The songs are about working class lives, sticking up two fingers to the old people and authority, booze, sex and fighting. When you’ve got nothing else to do, everything is boring. It’s a very British sound and a very British feeling. These songs and others like it were sung on the terraces, shouted across streets and painted on walls.
The first disc is groovy seventies rock. From the well known and expected .. Slade to bands I’ve never heard of .. Bilbo Baggins.. But they are all honest, menacing slices of life. Humorous and stomping, it’s all a load of bollocks, bastard old folks not liking scruffy little bleeders, yob rock.
The second disc is more Glam stompers and the appearance of yobbish Oi! And Punk shoutalongs too. Not just fuelled by booze, there’s a hint of sulphate in there too. This is where you find the brilliant Cock Sparrer and Slaughter and the Dogs but that’s not it by any means. Glam to pub rock to punk, a fight in pretty much every song, the dank discontent of teenagers shining through here.
The third disc is where it goes harder and louder, for the most part this is punk or/and Oi! And it’s like a punch in the face, violent, shocking and unexpected. Best song.. Well that’s asking. Maybe The Rezillos for pure anarchic humour or Angelic Upstarts for the fire and fury. Choose your own and let me know.