Tag Archives: garage rock

Guernsey Gigs presents Thee Jenerators, Joe Young and The Bandits and Silas The Assyrian Assassin – The Fermain Tavern – 06/05/17

Thee Jenerators

Thee Jenerators

With a bank holiday last weekend and another coming up next week with Liberation Day, it was hard to escape the feeling of this being something of a limbo weekend, but, thanks to Guernsey Gigs, there was the hope of rock ‘n’ roll salvation at The Fermain Tavern.

The night started off in slightly more sedate fashion than that though with the acoustic punk stylings of Silas The Assyrian Assassin. Silas combined aspects of his past work fronting some the islands most notable punk bands of the last decade with hints of the ranting poetry style of Attila the Stockbroker but all in package that looked constantly on the verge of collapse.

Following a full play of The A-Team theme tune, his performance tonight seemed a little lacking in the energy and spirit of his best ones. That said it was still entertaining enough with the usual grace notes like fumbling with a folded up set list still working well.

Silas The Assyrian Assassin

Silas The Assyrian Assassin

Musically it was as you’d expect with highlights coming with Trust Fund Anarchist, Interesting Facts and God Bless The Daily Mail and, while we didn’t get the full song, Boozing’s My Religion started out as a nice play on the REM classic.

By the end of the set, an improbable cover of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up with Stace Blondel providing backing vocals from the audience, it had picked up a little and it remained entertaining but I couldn’t help but think Silas really needs a more intimate space and engaged audience to really be properly effective.

Styles couldn’t have shifted much more next as Jersey four-piece Joe Young & The Bandits launched us through a time warp into the 1970s for a set of hard rocking power blues.

While I found it hard to engage with their performance there was no denying how well they evoked the sounds and styles of the likes of Hendrix, Cream, Zeppelin, et al, but through a set of convincingly created original songs.

Frontman Martin o’Neill (there is no actual Joe Young) was nicely energetic (when he wasn’t stood frustratingly with his back to the audience) though there were moments that felt a little too much like Tenacious D, but in the throwback context they worked ok.

Joe Young & The Bandits

Joe Young & The Bandits

Bass player Eddie Laffoley meanwhile was the most naturally energetic on stage and even put in some nice vocal performances in a few tracks. Of course a band like this wins or loses with its guitarist and Greg Alliban more than lived up to expectations with his playing, but again I found it hard to find a connection with the performance.

Joe Young & The Bandits may be a barrage of cliché but it’s hard to ignore the head nodding groove they invoked, even if it was nothing I hadn’t heard a hundred times before.

After a short break Thee Jenerators took to the stage for the first time in a good while and, to start with, it looked like the good but not great feel of the night was going to continue as the band ran through a few of their newer songs.

Mark Le Gallez of Thee Jenerators

Mark Le Gallez of Thee Jenerators

As soon as they launched into Fight The Power from their Jenerator X debut though things seemed to kick up several gears and never let up as we experienced possibly the most powerful garage punk assault this version of the band have produced to date.

While there were moments throughout the set where each band member seemed to lose their thread a little they didn’t let that slow them down as they powered through a selection of songs spanning their whole time together from Mystery Man to  French Disco to Yellow Fruit Pastille to Daddy Bones and got most of the small audience onto the dance floor.

With three encores culminating with a version of Bela Lugosi that verged on completely falling apart, Thee Jenerators put in a set that ended up showing them as the cathartic force of nature they are at their best and, as frontman Mark Le Gallez pointed out, there may not be many bands like this left around these days but we’re glad of those that there are, and I’m very glad there’s Thee Jenerators.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

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Gimme Danger

Gimme Danger posterBefore The Offspring and Rancid, before The Sex Pistols and The Damned, before The Ramones and The New York Dolls one band stood out as a link from the garage rock of the mid-1960s to the supposed nihilistic shock of punk.

A quartet of misfits from Ann Arbour, Michigan now in many ways more famed for merely existing than for what they actually did during their initial brief explosion of a career; Iggy Pop, Rock Action, Ron Asheton and Dave Alexander, aka The Stooges.

With Gimme Danger filmmaker Jim Jarmusch explores the band’s formation, career and aftermath in a surprisingly open fashion with contributions from as many past members of the band as possible along with a few who were close to the band both personally and professionally.

Throughout though it remains clear, for better or worse, that this is a story centred on The Stooges’ focal point, beating heart and barely contained explosive generator, Jim Osterberg, otherwise known as Iggy Pop.

After an initial intro of the bands mid-1970s demise amidst a miasma of drugs and feedback, Gimme Danger takes a relatively chronological trip through the history of the band from Pop’s formative musical steps right up to their Raw Power-era reunion in the early 2010s.

Iggy Pop interviewed for Gimme Danger

Iggy Pop

For the most part this is navigated by Pop, interviewed in two striking locations of a trailer like the one where he grew up and an elaborate throne like seat in an ostentatiously appointed ‘rock star’ abode, tellingly accompanied by a pair of skulls that’s it hard to not link as the spiritual presence of the Asheton brothers.

Pop takes us through his uncontrollably hyperactive childhood, his discovery of the drums and his brief time spent as a jobbing drummer with a love of the blues in Chicago before the formation of what was to become The Stooges began.

This opening chunk of the movie is certainly its most interesting before all the standard machinations of the record industry and excessive life of a touring band come to the fore.

Here we get a real sense of not just the band’s reputation as performers but where they came from and how they came to make the noises they did.

Along with Pop we hear from Scott ‘Rock Action’ Asheton and the Asheton’s sister Kathy about their formation in the counterculture hub of the Mid West that Ann Arbour was, as an interest in blues, freeform jazz and garage rock all came to bear on the initial trio before Alexander joined their ranks and they began to make waves in nearby Detroit.

Iggy Pop and Jim Jarmusch Photo credit: Ken Settle

Iggy Pop and Jim Jarmusch

As a whole things are presented in pretty standard format; talking heads, archive footage and contemporary, scene setting news reel tell us the visual story.

With this comes a real sense of this band being something different and that comes across in the mesmerising story telling by Iggy. Backing him up are interesting asides from recent interviews with Scott Asheton and the band’s saxophone player Steve Mackay.

In this intro Iggy lays out the basic philosophy of the band which, it seems according to the singer at least, remains to this day as they moved into a squat in Detroit and lived as ‘real communists’ in a non-political, all shared communal sense.

Once the band are formed and encounter the MC5 its a non-stop ride with barely a pause for breath and Jarmusch creates a real atmosphere of this through the recording and touring around their self-titled debut and Fun House and then again around Raw Power and the total collapse of the band in its aftermath.

The Stooges In the Studio

The Stooges In the Studio

Here members come and go and interactions with the likes of Nico and David Bowie sweep by with little time for analysis which feels entirely fitting for the band and I’m not sure I’d want too much analysis of their primal noise which is typified by the astonishing blast of fuzz that opens I Wanna Be Your Dog and sets this passage in motion with a genuine shock cut feel.

A great montage shows us the influence the band has had on others, including some great editing together of the likes of No Fun being performer by various bands, before we head into the reunion years.

Much like the formation years this is an interesting section due to it being less well-known and less formulaic of so many music documentaries, but equally it doesn’t feel over dwelled upon as this is far from The Stooges creative zenith.

The Stooges on stage

The Stooges on stage

Rounding off with a great time warping montage of I Wanna Be Your Dog and a choice quote from Pop that again gets across his outsider philosophy, Gimme Danger is a no frills exercise in telling the story of a band without removing their mystique but still offering insight.

I think its fair to say a film like this has done well when the first thing I want to do afterwards is dive into the back catalogue at the loudest volume possible, with this Jarmusch gets the all important ‘groove and feel’ of The Stooges that is what marked them out and still makes their initial trio of records so impressive.

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The Electric Shakes – Stereotypical Girls

The Electric Shakes - Stereotypical GirlsThere are some bands for whom the expression ‘more of the same’ would be a bad thing, then there are bands like Motorhead, AC/DC and, you can add to that list, The Electric Shakes as they release the follow-up to their self-titled debut album, three track single, Stereotypical Girls.

Ok, so it’s not entirely true that it’s exactly more of the same but, much like the other bands mentioned above, The Electric Shakes deliver straight forward rock ‘n’ roll with their own spin, in this case a 60s garage vibe tinged with a 70s punk spirit.

Lead track Stereotypical Girls takes a knowing look at the sort of young ladies you see out on the town of a weekend and rings remarkably true. Really though, like all three tracks, what really makes the song is the driving garage rock that is full of groove and beat and I would defy anyone to not, at the very least, nod their head as it plays.

All three tracks are staples of the band’s live set but on record They Won’t Believe Us and Turn It Over Now do feel strongly like B-sides, though they keep the head nodding action going strong even if they are slightly less engaging than the opener.

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

Recorded by Ed Deegan at Gizzard Studios, his classic vintage style suits the band’s sound and manages to evoke the same styles as their music while capturing a hint of their live energy.

While Stereotypical Girls isn’t quite as strong a release as their debut it shows The Electric Shakes doing what they do best and if you even get a vague idea that this might be for you after a listen, I’d recommend catching the band live as that is where they really excel and you can hear these songs as they were meant to be.

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Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons, Thee Jenerators and The Phantom Cosmonaut – The Fermain Tavern – 27/02/16

Puss Johnson

Puss Johnson

After their annual Unplugged night kicked off the year the Vale Earth Fair Collective continued their 40th anniversary year with the return of one of the bands who highlighted their 2015 festival, Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons.

As well as the dirty rock ‘n’ roll three-piece the night featured Guernsey’s own garage godfathers, Thee Jenerators, with something a return to form set, while The Phantom Cosmonaut opened the show playing his first set since last summer’s Chaos weekend.

My review of the Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons and Thee Jenerators was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 5th March 2016 (and there was also a review of The Phantom Cosmonaut by Claire Menzies which you can see further down the page).

Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons and Thee Jenerators review scan - 05:03:16

and here’s that review of my alter-ego:

The Phantom Cosmonaut review scan - 05:03:16

And finally a taste of Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons in their latest video:

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Thee Jenerators – The Devil’s Chords

Thee Jenerators - The Devils ChordsAfter a long wait and a couple of line up changes Guernsey’s garage-rock godfathers, Thee Jenerators, are back on record with new full-length album The Devil’s Chords.

In typically contrary style the record was released digitally with little fanfare in the summer, ahead of their appearance at the Vale Earth Fair, before a fully fledged vinyl edition emerged in November.

My review was published on the Gallery magazine website on Friday 20th November 2015 but unfortunately, since the Guernsey edition of the magazine folded at the end of 2015 its no longer available there.

So here is the review in full

The Devil’s Chords

15 years into a career with roots stretching back far further, Thee Jenerators are back with their fifth album The Devil’s Chords. Being the first to feature this line up of the band; founding members Mark Le Gallez (lead vocals) and Ozzy Austin (drums) are joined by longtime saxophone and organ man Garrick Jones and newcomers Jo Reeve (bass) and Andy Sauvage (guitar), making for a slightly different Jenerators, but still a band firmly based in retro, garage, rock ‘n’ roll.

Jo and Mark of Thee Jenerators

Jo and Mark of Thee Jenerators

With each of their previous albums the band seem to have taken on slightly different themes, from the punky leaning of Jenerator X through mod and ska, rock ‘n’ roll and leading to Rejeneration’s strongly 1960s garage influenced tones. Here they take a bit of each of these to create a varied album that is all unmistakably Thee Jenerators.

Mixed in with this, the newer members bring something of their own to proceedings with Reeve’s basslines retaining the sense of Le Gallez’s from Rejeneration but with a greater fluidity and power, helping bring the rhythm section to life even more than previously, while Sauvage’s indie-rock influences are evident giving the whole thing a slightly new feel with hints reminiscent of 1990s British guitar bands.

The Devil’s Chords kicks off with rocker City At Night that has proved a potent live show opener and sets the scene well. Lead single Daddy Bones follows this and is one of the more garagey highlights of the record alongside the Theremin drenched Bela Lugosi which continues the sound of Rejeneration but with added overtones of psychobilly and horror movie fandom.

Le Gallez’s mod-ish tendencies reappear on Where’s Polly Gone and a revisited Who The Hell Is Frank Wilson (originally featured on second full length The Kids Are… Not Alright) while album closer Keep On Knocking takes us back to the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Recorded analogue and almost all live makes for a genuinely vital sounding record with all the performers’ power coming across and Le Gallez in particular sounding as strong a frontman as he ever has.

Mark Le Gallez of Thee Jenerators

Mark Le Gallez of Thee Jenerators

The fact that it sounds like there are a few missed notes here and there adds to the live feeling, but bolstered by extra studio work, including guitar overdubs and backing vocals, really succeeds in capturing the sound that has built Thee Jenerators’ reputation while adding that extra something that can only be captured on record.

As well as a digital release, a physical version is available on vinyl with detailed artwork by Mikal Dyas that completes a full package of a record in a vein akin to the many influences shown by the band and maintaining their defiantly ‘retro’ yet vital manner.

This final touch completes a record that brings Thee Jenerators full circle in some ways while helping to define and clarify a sound that, while drawing on much of rock ‘n’ roll history, is certainly their own and continues to prove the old adage, “The Devil has the best tunes” (or in this case chords, I guess).

Thee Jenerators - The Devils Chords - November 2015

Here’s a little preview of what to expect from The Devil’s Chords:

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The Electric Shakes, Gay Army and Ray & The Guns – The Fermain Tavern – 03/10/15

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

Rock ‘n’ roll and garage was out in full force last weekend as Thee Jenerators delivered a stripped back, chaotic and powerful performance at the De La Rue on Friday followed, on Saturday, by the return to the island of Bournemouth’s The Electric Shakes at The Fermain Tavern.

The night started out with Ray & The Guns kicking off their set with a spirited take on Imelda May’s Psycho. Now without a trumpet player it gives some of the songs a bit of a different feel, but one that for the most part, works well and brings out their rock ‘n’ roll vibe much more, especially as they segued into Vince Taylor’s Brand New Cadillac.

After a storming outing at The Vault in August, here the five-piece were a bit less energetic, though that may be down to opening the show to an interested but not as enthusiastic audience. As the set went on the energy picked up a bit, with a particular highlight being their take on Please Don’t Touch (previously made famous by Motorhead & Girlschool and originally by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates).

Ray and the Guns

Rosie and Nick of Ray and the Guns

As always Nick Dodd was understatedly excellent on guitar and his playing, described by one gig goer as having the style of “stoner rockabilly”, was a highlight and linchpin of the band’s sound, while Rosie Allsopp’s punkier streak added a nice vocal counterpoint Rachael Cumberland-Dodd’s more traditional style.

Much like the aforementioned show at The Vault, also on the bill here were the recently revived Gay Army. Once again frontman Rolls Reilly was all over the stage and dancefloor, and doing his best to get the crowd engaged, but it just seemed to have the effect of keeping them back in the shadows – though they seemed content to stay there anyway.

While as tight as they ever are Gay Army’s performance lacked something of the intensity their style of post-punk/indie requires and it left things feeling a bit weak and at times reminiscent of the less inspiring bits of U2’s oeuvre.

Gay Army

Gay Army

This in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for a band renowned for their dangerous, edgy performances it was something of a disappointment.

Later in the set Cut The Wire did start to show more of Gay Army’s usual style but it was too little too late and, while a technically solid performance, it didn’t reach the heights of the two other outings since their revival.

Following well-received shows both at The Tav and on the main stage at Chaos earlier in the year, The Electric Shakes have been on something of a roll with great outings on their visits to Guernsey thus far.

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

If there’s one word to describe their performance here though, the only one I could go with is ‘LOUD!’

Unfortunately a side effect of the sheer force of volume was that it all became a bit muddy which drained the songs of some of their power.

Despite that the three-piece gave it their all on stage with bass player Eric being a particularly energetic standout.

While the dancefloor was busy most seemed content to stand and watch with only a handful getting moving and much of the rest of the venue emptying out.

As the set went on we got treated to a lot of new material alongside songs from the band’s self-titled debut record and it certainly seemed that the new numbers have the same kind of retro-rock ‘n’ roll appeal as the more familiar tracks.

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

Highlights of the set were Stereotypical Girls and The Doctor and the new song debuted in the encore that had great bouncy ‘pogo’ potential but unfortunately in the face of a wall of ear-splitting volume few got moving to it.

While again well received and well delivered I could only feel that, much like with Gay Army, something of the power and energy I’ve enjoyed of The Electric Shakes in the past got lost in translation somewhere on this occasion.

You can see more of my photos of the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page here.

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The Surfin’ Birds – Self-Titled

The Surfin' BirdsHailing from Weymouth (seemingly by way of Detroit) The Surfin’ Birds self-titled debut LP runs the gamut of retro rock ‘n’ roll over 11 tracks.

The trio have been plying their trade on the live circuit for a few years and have a few EPs under their belt all of which has very much culminated in this record which draws their various sounds and influences together.

Things open with a pair of fuzzy garage rockers, She’s Twisted and Baby I’m A Man, that evoke a certain Stooge-y something and set a firm foundation for what’s to follow.

As the disc rolls on, I was listening on CD but really this feels like it should be on vinyl, we get more fuzzy rock, rubbing shoulders with twangy instrumentals and semi-psychobilly moments.

Paul Sharod of The Surfin' Birds

Paul Sharod at The Vale Earth Fair

The instrumentals are a nice change of pace to most of what I’m used to hearing and the three main instruments share time in the lead position to great effect, though of course its Paul Sharod’s guitar that takes pride of place.

Setting them apart from other Dick Dale wannabes is a psychedelic edge that is present across the whole record and changes thing up just enough to make it the band’s own.

A highlight of the darker tinged stuff comes with the slightly knowing Graveyard Groupie that combines the vibe of The Cramps with elements of the more British and European psychobilly movement.

Here we see the Sharod’s lyrics come to the fore with a sense of slightly of kilter fun and a vocal delivery that again apes his heroes while still maintaining enough of himself to make it their own.

What having these three distinct sorts of songs does is allow the band to present a varied but still (somewhat oxymoronically) coherent sound that keeps the listener guessing while still creating a clear sonic identity for the trio.

This coherence is aided by a suitably lo-fi, fuzzy, production job that on some albums would be a bad thing but here is perfect – you can hear everything you need to clearly, but it sounds like a product of the 60s, like something from a weird Sonics session that went a bit wrong (and oh so right).

The Surfin' Birds

The Surfin’ Birds

With this record The Surfin’ Birds take the sounds of Dick Dale, The Cramps, The Sonics and The Stooges and ram them all together, head on, to create something that, while based on that description could easily be a mess, is a great rock ‘n’ roll record.

In terms of more mainstream things brings to mind The Hives and stands alongside follow English Channel based acts The Electric Shakes, The Cryptics and Thee Jenerators as proof that garage rock can still be a force to be reckoned with and stand out from a sea of music that often has the look but not the substance.

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Thee Jenerators and The OK – De La Rue – 24/07/15

Thee Jenerators

Thee Jenerators

It was a wet and windy Friday night in July when I headed to the De La Rue in St Peter Port for the first time in quite a while to catch garage rockers Thee Jenerators and young rockers The OK.

The OK were up first and fired off, as they always do, with the enthusiasm of a first teenage band straight out of their practice room, despite having been playing together for a few years now.

Their mix of covers and originals are delivered at a breakneck pace that, while somewhat undisciplined, is a sign of a band who seem to be having a great time. Highlights of the set came in covers of The Hives, Royal Blood and great version of Free’s Wishing Well, which was the best I’d ever heard the band play.

Joe and Lars of The OK

Joe and Lars of The OK

Their originals, while a little on the undeveloped side at times in comparison to the well-known covers, show a lot of promise as does their whole performance and they certainly seemed more relaxed here than on the bigger festival stages I’ve seen them play in the past.

After a short break Thee Jenerators took to the stage for two complete, non-stop, sets that covered almost two hours.

It took a while for the band to warm up and hit their stride but as they did they were everything they’ve become known for. As always Mark Le Gallez was a chaotic presence on stage, off stage, on the floor and climbing on tables, while bass player Jo Reeve did his utmost to match him, albeit slightly more anchored by the vintage styled four-string hanging from his shoulders.

Jo and Mark of Thee Jenerators

Jo and Mark of Thee Jenerators

The sounds from Garrick Jones’ organ cut through more tonight than some past gigs brining out the more psyche side of the bands sound to great effect, as Andy Savuage’s telecaster kept things firmly grounded in the garage rock ‘n’ roll that is the band’s calling card.

The second half of the performance saw the dancefloor get busier and get moving with old and new songs standing side by side and all providing highlights. Mystery Man, Fight The Power and French Disco from the bands early days have long been fan favourites but the likes of Bela Lugosi, Daddy Bones and City At Night have everything needed to match them.

By the end of the set Thee Jenerators had proved they remain a chaotic, garage rock force of nature as they left the crowd calling for more as they pushed curfew to its limits following old school style rock ‘n’ roller I Hear You Knockin’.

You can see some more of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

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Journey To The Centre Of The Cramps by Dick Porter

Journey To The Centre Of The Cramps book coverA band like The Cramps are certainly one deserving of a thorough investigation. For the best part of 30 years they traced an enigmatic trail across the rock music landscape consistently at odds with anything else going on and never really offering much in the way of explanation beyond of a string of rocking records and a reputation for genuinely chaotic live shows.

So, in Dick Porter’s Journey To The Centre Of The Cramps, a revised, updated and expanded version of his earlier book The Cramps: A Short History of Rock ‘n’ Roll Psychosis, I hope to find out some of this and, for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed.

Its clear from the cover, and something that is never hidden by the author, that this really isn’t the story of a band, but of a couple, of Poison Ivy Rorschach and Lux Interior (aka Kirsty Wallace and Erick Purkhiser) and their 40 year relationship and the fruits of it, which was The Cramps.

Lux Interior and Poison Ivy

Lux Interior and Poison Ivy

Through interviews with his two leads along with friends and relatives we get an insight into where these two unique souls came from and how they first got together and indulged in, amongst other things, a huge passion for 1950s rock ‘n’ roll and 60’s garage rock that became the corner stones of their musical endeavours.

This thread of their love of rock ‘n’ roll and, specifically, record collecting is something that runs through their story as they seem to almost use their love of music as a test for their various band members commitment.

Along with the music we hear about their early dalliances with psychedelics and when things move to New York, Ivy’s part time job as a dominatrix of some kind.

It’s here though that the main issue I have with the book comes in.

The Cramps 'classic' line up

The Cramps ‘classic’ line up with Bryan Gregory

While I’m not the sort to want to know all the lascivious details of their lives in a tabloid expose kind of way, a strong thread of The Cramps music hints strongly at quite an appetite for not only rock ‘n’ roll but sex and drugs as well.

Here though, whenever it seems some modest revelation might be made relating to Lux or Ivy things are shied away from in surprisingly coy fashion, considering the openness of other aspects of the book and revelations about other band members and associates.

This though is a minor gripe and, on a different level, this not being a ‘tell all’ does maintain some of that essential mystery that is a part of the appeal of The Cramps music for me.

As well as telling the story of the band, with most of the focus being on their first ten years, though this was their most prolific period by far, we also get an insight into many of the people they worked with from various band members to producers, inspirations and bands they shared bills with over the years.

The Cramps with Kid Congo Powers

The Cramps with Kid Congo Powers

Particularly interesting in this are sections on Ivy’s inspiration Link Wray, the producer of their first album Alex Chilton and two of their early second guitarists the enigmatic Bryan Gregory and the much more down to earth sounding Kid Congo Powers.

Along with the story of the band we get a fine selection of photos of Lux, Ivy and assorted other Cramps spanning their career and complementing the text by showing they developed while at the same time staying intentional still and true to their original inspirations.

The book rounds off in surprisingly touching style as it takes us right up to Lux’s untimely death in 2009 and goes back to how it started by painting a portrait of, to use Porter’s own words, “a great America love story” that just happened to spawn an entire sub-genre of music as well as an entirely singular musical career the likes of which is highly unlikely to ever be seen again.

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Thee Jenerators – Jenerator X

Thee Jenerators - Jenerator XHaving recently picked up a copy of Mystery Man, the lead single from Thee Jenerators debut LP, I thought I’d take a look back at the album but found my original review was no longer available on the BBC Guernsey website. So here is a slightly updated and revised version of that review (originally published in August 2006).

Jenerator X

The debut full length release by Thee Jenerators, released through Twist Records in 2003, does many things, but the most important one that manages to capture something of the band’s formidable live energy on disc.

As soon as I put Jenerator X into my stereo I knew I was in for something a bit different, looking at the case it says there are 10 tracks, but the display said it was only 18 minutes long, ‘surely this couldn’t be right?’ I thought.

Having now listened to the album I know it was right and 18 minutes was the perfect length for this set of songs.

Steve and Mark in 2007

Steve and Mark in 2007

Blasting through 10 tracks in a way I didn’t think possible Thee Jenerators prove that speed of sound does not always mean thrashing through half-formed ideas like some lesser punk bands would, as here they present fully formed tunes in spaces no longer than 2 and half minutes. And they seem to prove that less speed can equal more pace.

Starting out with a minute of storming mod-ish rock ‘n’ roll in Dirty Water the four-piece continue in a similar vein throughout, defying any specific genre definition by constantly modulating through eras and genres with ease. At times they sound like they fell out of the 1960s while at other times flirting with mid 90’s guitar acts (and falling into any number of styles in between).

The band’s sound is constantly underpinned by a fuzzy, rumbling, bass line from Steve Lynch (now of The Electric Shakes) that holds down every track on the album.

Thee Jenerators - Mystery Man

Mystery Man single cover, featuring the original line up

This is augmented by the powerhouse drums of Stuart ‘Ozzy’ Austin, the over driven guitar of Matt Stephen and the howling vocals of Mark Le Gallez to produce a sound that doesn’t come from the world of solos and posing but from the down and dirty garage rock scene providing a united sound of a truly together band who know what they’re doing and why.

After listening to the record all I wanted to do was dance that leads me to believe that this disc captures the bands live energy, as its rare that feeling truly over takes listening to a CD through headphones.

Highlights on the album come in the form of singles Fight The Power and Mystery Man (featuring a familiar sounding voice credited to ‘Blind Jack Lazarus’) along with guaranteed dancefloor filler Shakin’ Shake. These three songs also serve to highlight the diversity of themes in Le Gallez’s songwriting which ranges from the political to the personal to celebratory but all in his own inimitable style.

As a debut ‘full-length’ release, or any release, this is an excellent example of quality song writing, musicianship and most importantly heart and soul, and looking back on it now set up exactly what was to come as the band expanded and evolved onwards.

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