There’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.
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.
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
This 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.
"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.
INTO THE PRIMITIVE - The Future Primitives (Voodoo Rhythm)
It took a few plays to work out what makes this South African garage trio such a compelling listen. The sparse, echo-ey production from straight out of 1966 is one thing, the simple songs that would do Billy Childish proud are another, but in the end it's the pure energy and urgency of the playing that's the winner.
SOUNDS FROM THE OTHER SIDE - Tumbleweed (Shock)
The portents were good. A reformed band, firing live and determined not to be a heritage act. Old burned bridges rebuilt. New songs. Reunited with the producer of their best-sounding work and taking the time to make sure they hit the mark in the studio.
And they did. Make no mistake. This is Tumbleweed's best moment since 1995's "Galactanphonic" and it might even eclipse it. Paul McKercher's chunky production gives full scope to the trademark fuzzy guitars and the swing is back in the big bottom end. The songs are keepers and the performances are on the money.