When it comes to bands from the ‘80s wave of garage revivalists, The Morlocks don’t get a fair shake, even for cult artists.
Put it down to their splintered history - there have been more line-ups than chords in a prog rock opera - or singer Leighton Koizumi’s disappearing act - years behind bars after a drug deal gone wrong will do that to your profile - but you never hear them mentioned in the same breath as, say, The Fuzztones or Lyres.
It’s been eight years since the all-covers “The Morlocks Play Chess”, a salute to the artists from the label of the same name, and Kolzumi has left the US West Coast to domicile himself in Germany.
For “Bring On The Mesmeric Condition” he assembled a “new” crew of mostly old fuzz fiends: Rob Louwers on drums ( Fuzztones, Q-65, Link Wray) Oliver Pilsner on bass (Fuzztones, Cheeks, Montesas, Magnificent Brotherhood) and guitarists Bernadette (Sonny Vincent, Humpers) and Marcello Salis (Kolzumi’s ex-Gravedigger V bandmate) make for some line-up.
We often give you the back story of the music reviewed here. Context is important for discerning consumers and we dig it up so that you don’t have to. It saves you buying the same record by a band that’s been repackaged by a nefarious label, for one.
Recounting and understanding the long and confusing history of the Pink Fairies, however, would require Mensa membership - and the odds are that neither of us carries that card.
Let’s skirt around the history and cut to the chase: There are two versions of the Pinks; one based in the UK comprising Russell Hunter, Duncan Sanderson, Andy Colquhoun, Jaki Windmill and (until last year) George Butler (R.I.P.), and an American version led by the original band’s Canadian co-founder, vocalist-guitarist Paul Rudolph.
“Resident Reptile” is the album from Rudolph’s version (2017’s excellent “Naked Radio” by the other line-up came out on UK label Gonzo) and he’s joined by former Hawkwind bassist Alan Davey and original Motörhead drummer Lucas Fox. The trio recorded in Texas for L.A. label Cleopatra.
Sonically speaking, there’s an awful lot going on here. It's like a bowl of musical ramen.
For those not in the know (that’d be most of us) Masami Kawaguchi is a underground legend in Japan, playing with a string of bands (Miminikoto, Haino Keiji's Aihiyo) and touring the USA and Europe numerous times. He sings, plays guitar and occasionally holds down the bottom end on bass.
There is an Australian connection: Tokyo-based Masami toured and recorded with Penny Ikinger and Deniz Tek in Japan a few years ago. He plays guitar in Penny's latest album. His solo record, the quirky and earthy "The Mad Guitar Sings”, came out in Australia a year or more ago, and he played some solo shows.
You may recall I reviewed Blaney's most recent album, "The Severance" (pay attention at the back, you) and I have no qualms about not changing my seven bottle verdict.
"Urban Nature" is Blaney's third LP featuring Mark E Smith; I don't have the other two, ("Smith And Blaney" and "The Train Part 3"), both on the (defunct?) Voiceprint label.
No, me neither. but on the strength of "Urban Nature" I've ordered both. One wonders aloud whether there's a definitive collection of Smith/Blaney in the works; if not, there should be. Why?
If you enjoyed the Laughing Clowns and their slightly wonky, soaring horns, and which Hunnas later wielded to equally great effect, you're in for a treat. Speedboat (from Adelaide) supported both bands and, I can attest, to great effect. While LC and H&C certainly influenced Speedboat, one wonders if the influence was all one-way.
If you don't know Speedboat, what they were about came from many unlikely sources (their name apparently springs from an Elvis movie), and I'm not giving away the joy of Tom Stehlik's liner notes).
Liner notes? Do Speedboat rate that?
By fuck they do. 'Plenty of Soap' holds the equivalent of four LPs plus a fistful of singles and b-sides, Stehlik's liner notes actually tell the story of the band. Frankly, most bands - especially a band held in such high regard as Speedboat (and all without a recording contract) - fuck up entirely.
I coulda sworn I sent a review of this violent fucker in yonks ago but ... apparently not. Anyway, it's been a couple months, and I still play it, often and loud, usually in the car, and I have the dangerous driving fines to prov
"Brando Rising" sounds fresh, piercing, varied and they approach the six songs here from every which way, and the disc hurtles toward you with the measured savagery of a Hammer film (or a killer making his way up the stairs). There's a healthy dollop of Stooges/ Iggy influence (no surprises as singer Rip fronts the Four Stooges when he's got a few moments to spare) and as The Barman points out belwo, a few other influences.
Don't let the influences influence you. Guitarist Kelly Hewson wields a nasty, savage guitar and is one of the few guitarists to use wah-wah and get away with it. Wah-buzzsaw? Something like that. Either way, they've got a top rhythm section which knows how to party, a guitarist who wants to rule the world and a singer who already does (so I am told). They're entertaining, intense, new, not particularly pretty and belong headlining at your local beer barn.