Rat On! - Swamp Dogg (Alive Naturalsound)

rat-onYou wouldn’t know it from the cover but “Rat On!” (1971) is a more polished production effort than Swamp Dogg’s debut from a year earlier, “Total Destruction To Your Mind”. Recorded at legendary studio Muscle Shoals, that’s where the conformity ends. “Rat On!” finds Swamp right in the pocket with a muscular rhythm section and a subversive feel. 

Total Destruction To Your Mind - Swamp Dogg (Alive Naturalsound)

 

total-destructionThere’s probably a complicated and entertaining backstory to the career re-birth of Jerry Williams Jr, prolific soul music producer and player also known as Swamp Dogg, but the bare bones are fairly evident. In his seventh decade and after years of relative obscurity, this former flatmate of Jerry Wexler and co-writer with Gary “U.S.” Bonds has hooked up with Alive Natural Sound and opened a floodgate of re-issues - of his own work and artists he’s produced or managed - and the results are pretty cool.

Kommer Med Fred - Spids Nogenhat (Bad Afro)

If you're looking for an expert on Danish acid rock of the early '70s you're in the wrong place. That period of music is the reference point for Spids Nogenhat but if they hit their mark, I have no idea. I do know that this, their second studio LP on champion Copenhagen label Bad Afro, is excellent.

Booze n Speed; The 7" Singes Collection '94-'97 - The X-Rays (High Noon Records)


This album title should be filed under the Don't Try This At Home Kiddies label. Everyone knows cheap booze + cheaper speed = a killer hangover. Played at volume, the amphetamine rush of The X Rays is likely to have the same effect. This is English gutter-punk, turned up to 11.

There's nothing subtle about these 26 songs. Each one is cranked out at extreme volume and pace. The effect is as bracing as it is tiring. The attack is incessant and bruising, the product of too many beer-soaked nights spent on heaving stages in Europe, supporting the likes of New Bomb Turks, Gas Huffer, The Motards and anyone else who'd have 'em. All but one song is the product of 10 singles issued in the '90s, the closing "Drinkin' For My Baby" being from a recent session by the reformed X-Rays. That last one is a keeper, by the way.

You know what to expect but you might not anticipate the sole cover, a take on the Saints' sublime "Erotic Neurotic", to be as distorted (or good) as it is. "Recording quality varies from cruddy to better than OK. Audiophiles, The X-Rays are not.

A third of the songs are presaged by a blast of white noise feedback. The rest simply lurch out of the speakers at you, unannounced and reaching for your throat. With titles like "Arrogant Fucked Up Shit", "Drahstrip Killer", "2 Bit Whore" and "PCP", it's punk rock in the Killed By Death genre, which if you don't know is the seamy under current that erupted all over the US of A without the straight edge affectations or extreme violence of hardcore.

Look, you're might have to be in the mood to be belted around the ears like this. There's precious little in the way of a saving grace like a melody line or a slow song. This is raw and insistent music to get blasted with. Judged on that basis, it works a treat. - The Barman


 

 

High Noon Records

Masks/The Hunch - The Monsters (Voodoo Rhythm)

monsters-masksThis pigeon pairing of albums by Switzerland's finest garage trash band The Monsters isn't so much chalk and cheese as the musical equivalents of festering offal and last week's maggot-ridden steak. They're offensive, distorted representations of rockabilly and its variants, chopped up and put through an industrial shredder. Which is exactly why you need them.

Whoever took the danger out of rock and roll forgot to tell The Monsters. Thank fuck for that. "Masks" is the "lost album" from 1989 andthe product of The Monsters going into a studio for the first time. Long-gone label Record Junkie Records (an off-shoot of the shop where Beat-Man worked) saw fit to issue it and it's been long out-of-print.

Monsters leader and Voodoo Rhythm label owner Beat-Man thinks "Masks" is embarrassing - although not to the point that he stopped short of re-issuing it. He need not recoil from the amateurish nature of parts of this record. It's raw, lyrically perplexing and a lot of fun, recorded to two-inch tape in the most basic of studios with needles bordering on the red.

Everybody into this sort off music raves about The Mummies and fair enough, but for mine The Monsters are better. I mean, there's nothing on "Masks" likely to surprise, but the guitar sounds grates in all the the right places and the drummer in this line-up had a bit of swing. Beat-Man's vocal swings from angry yelp to tonsil-shredding croak. Plus, they massacre "Wild Thing" in a way The Troggs could only dream of.

monsters-the-hunch"The Hunch" (named after one of Hasil Adkins' nom de plumes) dates from 1992, is half-studio and half-live and much better recorded. There's a bunch of covers sprinkled throughout and one of the cuts ("The Creature Form The Black Lagoon") made it onto Dionysus Records. It's proof garage punk doesn't have to sound like abysmal shit to stay true to its roots.

Hands up who wasn't a Cramps fan in the late '80s and early '90s? This version of "Drug Train" is pretty great. "Day Of The Triffids" and "Drag Is Back" have their rockabilly roots on show and pulse with energy.

The live side picks up a couple of songs from the first record ("Teenage Werewold", Wild Thing") and prominent covers ("Be Bop A Lula" and "The Witch"), and is a little light on the bottom end but who's going to pick nits? My guess is they ran out of studio time or got bored. This stuff should never be too polished.

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