❉ Lee Terry rounds up two recent Captain Oi collections from Cherry Red.
Eddie & The Hot Rods – ‘The Singles 1976-85’
“Gonna break out of this city, leave the people here behind…”
Yes, of course “Do Anything You Wanna Do” is one of the defining songs of the punk rock generation, but as this weighty collection demonstrates, originally they weren’t really a punk band at all. What they were in actuality was a frantic, hard-driving R&B/pub rock band in the vein of Mick Green’s Pirates or their Canvey Island compatriots Dr Feelgood, with their sound being built on the frenzied lead work of Dave Higgs and the Rickenbacker roar of bassist Paul Gray, with Barrie Masters providing a commanding vocal presence. Building on their reputation as a ferocious live act, many of their early releases were live EPs and/or cover versions (notably, bruising renditions of “Woolly Bully”, “96 Tears”, “Get Out Of Denver” and “Gloria” all feature here), but that wasn’t all they had to offer.
Early classics such as “I Might Be Lying” and the speedfreak jitter of “Teenage Depression” (their Top 40 debut) still hit with considerable force. Elsewhere, “On The Run” (final track of the live At The Sound Of Speed EP) goes off on a distractingly Hawkwindesque tangent.
“Do Anything You Wanna Do” appears three times over the course of this compilation in various guises (the original, the US single edit and a live rendition) and it displays a marked change in the overall tone of the band. With the act billed simply as Rods on the cover (which also bore striking artwork of Aleister Crowley wearing Mickey Mouse ears), “DAYWD” is less boogie-based, more measured in pace and much more hook-heavy than the work that preceded it. A departure, but a masterpiece nevertheless. Its b-side “Schoolgirl Love” is in a similar style, though not quite as memorable.
A minor oddity rounds off Disc 1 in the shape of two tracks recorded with former MC5 rabble-rouser Rob Tyner on lead vocals, but without Masters or Higgs (ex-Kursaal Flyers guitarist Graeme Douglas, who had joined in early ’77, plays all the guitars on this release). The two tracks are a lot of fun, sounding rather like Back In The USA outtakes with a better bass sound, but ultimately make little impact.
Disc 2 kicks off with the US version of “DAYWD”, with a slight remix to bring the vocals and lead guitar forward and a trim to lop off a quarter of the song’s running time, losing the last verse and chorus in the process. It’s a bit jarring in context when the original is so familiar. “Quit This Town” is another belter, being more of a blend of the pub-rock and pop-punk sides of the band, with a brisk tempo and lovely big call-and-response chorus, while its flipside “Distortion May Be Expected (Laughbagindub)” is five solid minutes of not much at all but a tasty Gray bassline and some quasi-dub fannying about. “Life On The Line”, title track of the second album, slams along agreeably, while the sardonic “Media Messiahs” eases back on the throttle while heaping on the harmonies.
“Power And The Glory” and “At Night” are two more creditable stabs at duplicating the “Do Anything…” magic, but by the Spring of 1980 Douglas and Gray both jumped ship (with Gray joining the Damned, recording the magnificent Black Album later that year). A couple more singles followed with replacement bassist Tony Cranney, with “Wide Eyed Kids” veering slightly into Stranglers territory with its sweeping keyboards, and “Further On Down The Road” (a cover of an old Taj Mahal song) being an incongruous MOR ballad that sounds more like Dr Hook than Dr Feelgood. By mid ’81 they found themselves cut adrift by their label EMI and split up, but Masters and drummer Steve Nicol reconvened with new members in early ’85 for one more single: “Fought For You”, a faintly inconsequential ballad, backed by a perky runthrough of CCR’s “Hey Tonight”.
Eddie & The Hot Rods never disappeared altogether, touring on and off right up until the climactic “Done Everything We Wanna Do” extravaganza at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2019, with by-then sole remaining original member Barrie Masters joined by a plethora of guests, including most of the original members of the band. Masters announced that he would be retiring from touring at the end of 2019, but sadly died in the October at the age of 63. Cause of death was given as “intoxication by multiple agents”. However, much like the Lee Brilleaux-less Dr Feelgood, the last incarnation of the band have soldiered on without him, as long-time bassist Ian Dean took over vocal duties. This package is a handy reminder of just how great a band they really were.
❉ Eddie & The Hot Rods – ‘The Singles 1976-85’ 2CD (Captain Oi AHOYXCDD389) originally released 14 October 2022 by Cherry Red Group, RRP £22.99. Click here to order directly from Cherry Red Records.
‘1980 – Brand New Rage’
“1980’s a brand new age!” bawls Charlie Harper of the UK Subs on the opening song of this meaty selection box of turn-of-the-decade underground tunes, which is a fair enough assessment. The first flush of punk rock had long since faded and while many of the original bands had either crashed and burned (the Pistols) or pushed their sound into unexplored territories (the Clash, the Damned) a host of newer bands had sprung up in their wake. The punk scene had shattered into an untold number of subgenres and offshoots as the young disciples discovered new ways to express themselves.
This set explores in some depth the variety of the punk and post-punk scene of the time. The classics of the day come thick and fast; Chelsea’s “No-One’s Coming Outside”, the Damned’s proto-Goth masterwork “Wait For The Blackout”, “Last Night Another Soldier” by the mighty Angelic Upstarts, the embyonic Adam & the Ants with “Cartrouble”, the Professionals (Steve Jones and Paul Cook’s post-Pistols outfit) with the impossibly catchy “1-2-3”, Discharge’s terrifyingly noisy “Fight Back”, Stiff Little Fingers’ acerbic “Nobody’s Hero”, the wonderfully daft “Gigantor” (theme song to an old Japanese cartoon series) by the Dickies, the Ruts’ epic “West One (Shine On Me)”, the Vibrators’ grooving (and brilliantly misspelt) “Disco In Mosco”, Splodgenessabounds’ frankly insane take on “Two Little Boys”, as well as lesser-known tracks by the Exploited, the Fall, Sham 69, 999, the Boys, the Cravats, Tenpole Tudor and the Piranhas.
For fans of the more obscure end of things, there are choice cuts by the likes of The Drones, Menace, The Dark, The Satellites, the Carpettes, UK Decay, Salford Jets, Murder Inc and many others. Lots of gems to discover in this excellent package, which is part of an ongoing series.
❉ Various Artists: ‘1980 – Brand New Rage’ 3CD Box Set (Captain Oi AHOYBX387) originally released 21 October 2022 by Cherry Red Group, RRP £12.99. Click here to order directly from Cherry Red Records.
❉ Cherry Red Records have been releasing and reissuing the most innovative and independent thinking music since 1978. Follow them on Twitter or visit their site.
❉ Lee Terry is a regular We Are Cult contributor and a member of The Kingcrows, Leeds’ scuzziest sleaze-punk-n-roll maniacs.
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