'Stiffology 1981- 1988'
(sjpcd062) CD January 2001
Another new compilation by The Stiffs. I was really looking forward to this, the next leg of the bands career, as I'm a big fan of their wall of sound punk power, circa 79/80. But I'm afraid 'Stiffology 1981-88' is an album of two half's. The first half was all mainly new stuff to me, with some smart un- released demo's making their worldwide debut. This is a band whose demo's are worthy of release in their own right. They've still got their power on tap although be it in a more refined manner with a far slicker production. And production is one of The Stiffs outright qualitys..guaranteed clear as fuck and punktual! The Stiffs have however gone to the Skids in 1981. By that, I mean they've adopted a more Celtic orientated guitar sound, and it's done very well indeed. Take songs like 'Standing Ovation' which is definitely the standout track of the set (and we get two versions to verify that fact). And the quirky sounding 'Over The Balcony' ,which was recorded for a Radio one session, and probably their most experimental of the period. We've still got the solid Phil Hendriks no messing vocals, that guide the songs through choppy waters, accompanied by tunes to brag about. So for about 8 tracks I'm happy as Larry. But by 1983 all this was gonna change. First off, a name change to Idol Rich and track 9, 'Peso Trail' with it's throwaway tinkling keyboard sound and soda pop arrangements. Yeah this was a stark warning of things to come! You can sniff the urgency has started to wain, and the power loses pace to a more commercial sound. Which is one important loss for a band of this calibre. The Stiffs had gone limp! And they weren't the only ones to fall victim to this disease, look at Lords Of The New Church etc. No matter what, as soon as the keyboards start to become a major part of their sound, they get lost in the empty sea of early 80's pop chart fads. I mean c'mon this ain't Dave Greenfield were talking about here, this is more like Howard Jones!!! Having said that 'Best Place In Town' and 'Standup' were exceptions to the rule. Sadly from here on in the album went completely downhill fast for me. The band went into their alter ego Idol Rich, Bono Twins and the glam rock period. Their sound became puny and lost it's aggression that gave em the edge on others. And If you read the fascinating sleeve notes (done by Dale Griffin) that accompany this CD, you can see the times they were a changing. And yeah although they tried to change with 'em, The Stiffs should've kept to what they do best, and that's bang out full on motors running punk rock songs, with that sting in it's tale. Maybe that path wasn't gonna put bread on the kitchen table, but at least it's honest. They even started recording stuff with wanker tribute artists, which is the kiss of death for any band. They do resurface with a slightly more anthemic sound on the rocky ballad of 1985's 'In Your World' which only hinted at past glories. The original Stiffs were the band for me and countless others, and I think Phil Hendriks leader and mainstay throughout all the bands lineups changes knows that more than anyone! AVERAGE Angel Air Records
'Industrial Strength Records Compilation 2001' CD 2001
This is a 24 track compilation of 12 Industrial Strength Records bands who get a couple of tracks each to tempt us with. Can't say I'd heard most of these bands before so it's great to put a sound to the names. I think most of these originate from the Californian wing of the US scene. Rats come out the starting gate with well played but average punk. They do show some interesting touches on the second track 'Apocalypse' but didn't live up to their name. Oozies boast a rocky kinda vocalist. Which inevitably gives their songs a bit of a bland feel. But they get a bit better on 'Red White And Blue' which don't sound how it reads. Strychnine play more average stuff and sound pretty much the same on each track. The singer gets pretty excited on the former 'Liqueur And Poker' which showed signs of metallic operetta. Cell Block 5 (named after the ozzie dyke TV show?). I wouldn't be surprised! Give us a whole new take on punk with slidey acoustic guitars on 'Scooter Boy'. A song which was just too folky my liking although the lyrics were pretty skin orientated. They kick in with some amplification on 'Going To A Fight' but those clipped vocals sound too dumb to be taken seriously. First time I heard the Shitgivits and are the first band on here who seem to have the right attitude. These veteran punks have more than a passing interest with this label as their guitarist Todd Dammit is an Industrial Strength guru and plays in Oppressed Logic too!! Well they're a lot more melodic than I was expecting but with that snotty feel which I like. I thought 'Kaos Control' was their best number. They lose it a bit on 'Sour' but sound nothing like Oppressed Logic which was good to hear. Talk of the devil and Nihilism favourites Oppressed Logic are up next with two tracks from there highly rated 'It's Harassment' album with 'Void Of Society' and 'This Is Reality' both giving most of the other bands who preceded em a nod on how it should be done. But hey their Industrial Strength crown ain't totally safe as I'm the sure the explosive Glamour Pussy will have something to scream about that. Especially on the hilariously over the top 'I Won't Take It Up The Ass' which is so wildcat and obnoxious its a blast. An over the top bunch of punkettes if ever I heard any who are either a massive joke or could be real fun. Best band on here by a cats whiskler. We are then given some Shadows guitar play by Jumbo Shrimp! (Ex-Dead Kennedy's) Which is anything but a diverse inclusion on this comp. I love my instrumentals as well as the next punk. Gimme 'Down in The Sewer' , 'Handling The Big Jets' etc. and this had a kinda funny novelty feel to it. I'm beginning to sense this label has it's tongue firmly planted in it's cheek. East Bay Chasers bring us back on the more familiar punk track with some good tunes. And once you get used to the familiar sounding vocalist who has a Keith Morris (Circle Jerks) feel to his vocals. Especially on 'Your Generation' you get a pretty good idea where the band are heading. Another of this albums highlights. The Process are another bunch who give a good run for their money although the vocals let em down a bit and those "ohhhhaaaahhs" get to be a chore sometimes. Doomsday Device bring our first and only taste of hardcore thrash. Which like all the rest of this genre was boring for me. Although the atmospheric bell chiming inserts on 'Set In Stone' were good. Last but by no means least come Puzzlebox. Where do they get these names from? They sound English in vocals and their 'Motorhead' track is not a cover but a definite tribute to 'Lemme a fiver's' outfit. They sound ok but the vocals sounded too tame in places and lacked power. Their 'Albania' track blatantly nicks the riff from the Buzzcocks 'Walking Distance' . So definitely a band with a personality crisis. Comes in great cover with a lethal looking circular saw and was WORTH A LISTEN for the outstanding tracks alone. Industrial Strength Records
THE DERITA SISTERS
'V-Boy Riot! Live In Germany 2000'
(Real George Records) CD 2001
The Derita Sisters (and Junior?...who seems to have got lost somewhere?) have found a second home in Germany. They are regarded by some there as folk heroes in certain parts after only one tour and still remain relatively obscure in LA. So it comes as no suprise that this 31 track LIVE souvenir CD was recorded on their last tour there in 2000. And like all live albums I'm afraid it's got the rough with the smooth. Including most of their unsavory classics and a quite a few news ones too. But alas live albums just ain't my thaaang! at all. Even when it's the Sisters in action!!! Obviously some of the songs just don't cut it live and unless you've got a few mobile sound recording studios parked in the back lot some of the tracks are a bit of a blur. Having said that though there's only a couple of live albums over the last 25 years of punk that I can safely say really captures a band in a truly live context without coming across as second rate versions of the recorded original. And one of them's gotta be Sham 69's 'Tell Us The Truth'. Anyway enough of this bollox and back to the Deritas, who are a totally different ball game and a definite fun band live by all accounts. 'V-Boy Riot' does have it's moments and kicks off with a humourous handful of intro segments from most of their tour....before moving into the short lived but brilliant 'Bitch Slap' . Which is a great short '77 inspired punk instrumental and proves they can play it live as well as on record. Taking the lions share of this 30 song set, was their most recently recorded output (they've made a staggering 13 records to date!!!). Ultra contagious numbers like 'The Scaffolder' sounding as fresh as on record with it's flanged guitar breaks hit the button. This live set also proved drunk o not they're a lot faster in the flesh. Take the blitzing 'Sawn Off Shotgun' or the unpatriotic 'Lynryd Skynyrd Has Risen From The Grave' for evidence. Other highlights were the tongue in cheek 'Given Time' and the quirky lookout....'Ant Farm'!!!! However this was all eclipsed by the hilarious (new one to me at least), and epic 'Freak in The Middle Town' which is another hit if only. But for every good track there's the so-so average track like 'Tomorrow Was Yesterday' to contend with. But the schoolboy humour of 'Billy Wank And Bobby Toss' wins em praise along side the hit single (snigger) 'Wino A Go Go' made it worth the effort. With no mention of the war whatsoever and after dragging their 'United States Of The World' rep around the brothels of Hamburg. The Sisters end up on their best crowd sing-a-long song to date, the waltzing 'Stop Me before I Fuck Again' that screams release me as a 45 now!!! This is bound to go down well in any bordello in any town. It was that good it gets aired twice. And on the second more rowdier version we sample some pissed up German Ramones fan giving it that extra bit of umpa. Tee hee he nearly steals the show!!! After all said and done this CD don't exactly add a new dimension to the bands anthology of tracks. Coz I for one was expecting way more inter-song banter. But for the fans who ain't seem em live yet (myself included) , it's a good momento into their live repertoire. It's ends with a sneak studio track called funnily enough 'V-Boy Riot' that has a really big influenced sound of their most recent collaboration with Mr Addict.
(hsi24x) Promo CD March 2001
The latest 13 track taster from the band who are described in their press release as "catchier than a case of the clap in a Southeast Asian Whorehouse" ha ha ha! I like their promo style, but yet again those whiney little poppy vocals by Sean Wolf are just too good to be true for me. They camouflage this bands piss taking lyrics far too much. Maybe it's coz I was born with a shard of sulphur in my mouth instead of a piece of bubble gum, coz the only thing I caught from this was it's well played, sugarcoated new wave that don't exactly stand out in the crowd!!! However these Pennsylvanian punkers can still create some good tunes with squeaky clean but addictive guitar riffs soaring above the skies of our seedy punk pits. But constant pop melodies and attitude gets a bit stale for me after a while. Maybe if they had a couple of more rawer sounding tracks without 'the Who' styled backing vocals, I might've been tempted to play this more, alas that's not to be! The Buzzcocks comparisons are pretty true. So if that's yer bag they underline it with a very good cover of 'I don't Mind' by Manchester's bubble gum godfathers. I couldn't really see the Dickies influence?... although my favourite track 'Heaven Help Me' about your girl getting possessed by the devil, had some hilarious lyrics. And the overtly ironic 'Killing Me' is still one of their better numbers. They also do a rare cover of the Jam's 'Life From A Widow', which was an obscure surprise. It all comes with a great spot on production by Curt Cash, so the 9 months incubation period for this album has paid off on that score. I liked the opening Messerschmitt dive bombing intro and quality control was evident right through to their finale with their rawest number 'E=SB2' . The Stiletto Boys do the power pop '77 inspired style really good, pity it ain't got more grit! AVERAGE