the crisps ep cvrThe Crisps – The Crisps (Vi-Nil Records)

Pure garage pop goodness and it’s only two decades late. Chances are you’ve never heard of them.

As mentioned elsewhere, The Crisps were a Sydney assemblage of great potential back in the 1990s. The reasons they went nowhere are lost in the mists of time – probably hidden under a floorboard of the abandoned Hopetoun Hotel.

A vehicle for the songs of drummer-vocalist Stuart Wilson (New Christs, Lime Spiders and dozens of others), the band included members of would-be international stars Doomfoxx, road veterans The Johnnys and underrated northern beaches cowboys Orange County.

They recorded these six songs to help rustle up gigs. Ex-music reviewer-turned-bar operator  Mark Fraser heard them while reviving his Vi Nil Records label, loved ‘em and offered to press them up. And the rest is history.    

The songs were knocking around on a CD-R. If you’d heard it, or saw the band back in the day, you already knew they were good. Rick O’Neil has given the songs extra mastering gloss at Turtlerock Studios, and “The Crisps” sounds superb.

“Those Days Are Over” is a bona fide barnstormer. Sinewy riffing by Chris Nacard and Dave Thomas and Stu’s propulsive drumming give it a searing edge. Wilson’s frenetic and urgency vocal makes its point known.

“Dragged Down” is all gold-plated guitars, soaring background vocals and undulating dynamics. Some clever byplay by each instrument and drop-outs are the icing on top. It’s the opener and another classic.

Wilson’s vocal lives in the upper register and he wisely leaves enough space in his writing and arrangements for it to cut through. There’s hot sonic competition on songs like “Daddy Said” where Thomas and Nacard go toe-on-toe on guitars, and the tumultuous “Evil Twin”.

It’s driving stuff with the exception of the more reflective “Gonna Make You” where the band backs off the accelerator a touch and lets Stu’s soulful vocal sit on the top. It’s still more power than ballad when the guitars kick in about the mid-point. Label A&R men were a dying breed by the early ‘90s but you have to wonder how deaf all that coke had collectively made them for this one to go through to the wicketkeeper.

Get your copy on pink vinyl here before The Crisps get away again.