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Chuck Flintstones

Scared Stiff

in Contemporary artists/Reviews

Scared Stiff – Dark Streets

Scared Stiff

Link Records Link LP104 [1989]

Johnny Cynic The Untouchables My Babe She’s So Fine Tear It Up Dark Streets Scared Stiff Ghost Hunter One More Bite Elvis O’Leary

In late 1988 / early 1989 Chuck Flintstone contacted Dave Finnegan in order to release an album of Irish Psychobilly legends Shark Bait but the band had already split.

Finnegan hastily recruited some musicians (Ciaran Murphy on guitar, Johnnie Bonnie on drums and Willo O’Brian on bass as well as a couple of guest) to record this album containing songs from the Shark Bait catalog.

The album contains its share of very good songs, all originals being from the pen of Finnegan. From the psychobilly sound of Johnny Cynic and She’s so Fine (both with wild double bass) or Ghost Hunter to the title track that sounds like what could be described as Psycho-folk. Quite different – but very good – is One More Bite featuring an accordion or the Untouchables that starts with a jazzy mood before evolving into a furious neo-rockabilly.

Next to those very good songs, their covers are totally useless and are only here to release a lp rather than a mini album.

The album also suffers from a poor production (or the absence of production should I say) and a poor mastering .

Two songs (Ghost Hunter and One More Bite) were later reissued on Long Lost Psychobilly Vol. 1 (Treasures From The Vaults Of Link Records).

Shortly after the release of the album Scared stiff disbanded and Dave Finnegan appeared in the Alan Parker’s movie the Commitments before fronting his own Commitments band for a while.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Nitros (neo-rockabilly)

in Profiles/Stories

nitros_480The Nitros

Early Years

The Nitros story begins in 1984 when Mark Swain (double bass) and his cousin Jon Attril (drums) recruit John O’Malley “I met the band when I answered an advert in Melody Maker. Mark & Jon had advertised for a Rockabilly guitarist so I went along to the audition. It was at Mark’s house in Tottenham, North London. I’d been in bands since about the age of 12 but this was my first Rockabilly band with a proper stand up bass, I was about 15 at the time”.
O’Malley gets the place and the band begins to rehearse with its singer Gary Pudney. For the first time on stage together, they open for The Guana Batz but after a few gigs Pudney quits the band. He’ll resurface in The Griswalds, still as a lead singer. “I didn’t think he was right for the sound we were trying to get. He probably suited more of the Psychobilly sound when we wanted to be like Restless or the Blue Cats.” remembers O’Malley.
The remaining trio doesn’t look for a new singer and decides to carry on with O’Malley taking over the vocals duties. They record “Destruction Road” for Fury Records and “Taxi Cab” and “Echoes Of Love” for Katz Keep Rocking. In 1988 the band releases “Nightshades” their debut mini-lp on Link in the “Chuck Flintstone presents” collection. Mixing fast rockabilly tunes with O’Malley’s inventive and jazzy riffs and a bit of blues, this album is a true masterpiece. The ability of each of them to write originals gives this 8 songs lp plenty of diversity to please the listener like the bluesy “Well Now Baby”, the darker “Misery” and of course plenty of neo-rockabilly, all wrapped up with O’Malley’s inventive and impressive riffs, this album is a true masterpiece.
Sadly this line up doesn’t last long and this first incarnation of the Nitros splits in the late 80’s. “Jon wanted to leave as he had a few personal problems and Mark was losing interest so things just went down hill.” explains the singer “It was good while it lasted and we did quite few good gigs and released Nightshades so it wasn’t all in vain.” Mark will later form the pornabilly (sic) band “The Shocking Truth where he can still be found today.

Second line-up

That doesn’t stop O’Malley who keeps the name and the band going, this time with Gary “Gaz” Day on double bass formerly of The Mysterons and The Frantic Flintstones. They tried two or three drummers that didn’t fit the band, so Gaz called Rich Taylor “It went well so I got the job” . “When I got together with Gary and Rich it was like a whole fresh approach to what we were doing, they were more into the scene and the atmosphere in the band was better, it was more fun. Gary was and still is a great bass player and very enthusiastic towards what we were doing so the sound just got better” recalls O’Malley. The new Nitros secured a contract with the Sun records of modern Rockabilly, Roy Williams’ Nervous Records and go to the studio to record their second album, “Stompin’ Beat”, in 1990. This one features some great moments like “Devil’s Ship” or “Swingsville” a jazzy instrumental that shows O’Malley’s rich influences “I’ve always liked Brian Setzer, he’s great. I started off liking all the usual rock’n’roll guitarist like Cliff Gallup, Franny Beecher, Danny Cedrone and Scotty Moore, they still sound good today. As I’ve gotten older my tastes have widened and yes, I listen to a lot of Django , Oscar Moore and Danny Gatton to try to take some of there style. But my all time hero is Jimmy Bryant, he was so fast and clean, absolutely amazing without a doubt.” In his capable hands this mix is… well, explosive.
The choice of the covers is also particularly judicious with songs from The Polecats, The Beatles and Queen. And if “Stompin’ Beat” doesn’t have the freshness and the exuberance of “Nightshades” it benefits from a tighter rhythm section. But to achieve such a great result hasn’t been easy “Stomping Beat was especially a bit of a nightmare, the engineer was always stoned and couldn’t get anything done, in the end we had to get Pete Gage to take over and mix it, he kind of saved it.” Taylor completes “He was always looking for drugs, so we ended up trying to mix the L.p ourselves. Roy was not happy and we got Pete Gage to mix it.”
Around the end of 1991, John O’Malley was also a member of “Rabbit Action” featuring Phil Connor from the psychobilly band Skitzo on vocals, Mickey Wigfall on bass, and Paul Moxon on drums. “I’d known Phil from the early days of the Nitros, we used to be on the same bill together a lot and we became good friends. Phil is a great guy and I’d love to run into him again.” The band stayed together for a short while “but it just fizzled out”. In 1990 Gary went back to The Frantic Flintstones and brought Rich with him. Together they played on “Cuttin A Fine Line” (Rumble Records) and later “Jamboree” (Anagram). During this sessions, produced by Alan Wilson, Day suggested to reform The Sharks. He was drafted in on bass and recorded “Recreationnal Killer” in 1993. He also debuted his partnership with famous popstar Morrissey.

Colbert Hamilton

Still in 1993 the Nitros released its third LP on Day’s short lived label Rockout : “Something’s Gotta Give”. Another very good one, with Boz Boorer (Polecats and many others) in the producer’s seat. Mostly self written with the exception of Wayne Walker’s All I Can Do Is Cry and Bobby Roberts’Big Sandy this one goes from wild rockabilly to the jazzy “Midnight Special”. A guest singer is also present on four songs “Chris Harvey was with the band for about six months. A great singer but didn’t seem to fit in with our sense of humour. I haven’t seen him since he left the band, maybe he went back to Scotland.”.
The same year they backed Colbert Hamilton, the Black Elvis, on “Still Taggin’ Along”. “We met Colbert when he used to work in Kensington market. We had seen him perform before and thought he was great. We approached him and found out he wasn’t with any band at the time so we got him in and it went from there. Colbert is an amazing singer and front man, he really knows how to put on a show. The two CDs we did together were cool, he had a load of his old songs he’d never recorded and I’d written a bunch of songs so we put them all together and out came the 2 CDs”. O’Malley has very fond memories of the Japan tour backing Hamilton “It was great and we were treated really well, the crowds were just so into what we were doing, I remember me and Rich walking down the town and young Rockabilly kids stopping us to sign pictures and take our photo… Cool.”
In 1994, the band and Hamilton returned to Nervous to release Hamilton’s third lp “Wild At Heart” produced by Alan Wilson (The Sharks) and featuring covers of The Reverend Horton Heat and Thin Lizzy.(Hamilton collaborated with Phil Lynott). For Taylor and O’Malley “Wild at heart is the best one, I wouldn’t change a thing about that one”

The Nitros never officially disbanded but each of them got involved in other projects. Taylor played with Paul Ansell’s N°9,  The Caravans, The Playboys and The Crazy Crocodiles. He also had a project with Dibbs Preston (The Rockats) called The Leopardmen. Day was busy with his own band The Gazmen, The Caravans and of course as bassist with Morrissey.
O’Malley joined the heavy touring band “Good Rockin’ Tonight”. They released numerous albums and his sparkling guitar can still be heard with them today. He also formed The Poker Dots in Spring 2002 with Zac Zdravkovic and Spencer Lingwood, a band inspired by The Platters, The Crew Cuts with a bit of Nat King Cole here and there.
When he thinks about his days in The Nitros, O’Malley says : “It was good fun and I’m glad I was a part of it. ” 

“Something Gotta Give” is now out of print (sadly) but Nigthshades and Stompin’ Beat have been released on the same cd in 2009 by Cherry Red /Anagram. With three bonus tracks and a booklet full of rare photos, this is a must have.
If mp3’s are more your thing, Stompin’ Beat, Wild At Heart (with Colbert Halmiton) and the songs from Outrage vol 1 and 2 are available.

The Nitros
The Nitros (John O’Malley, Rich Taylor and Gary Day)

  • Albums
    Nightshades – Link MLP 062
    Stompin’ Beat – Nervous Nerd049
    Something’s Gotta Give – Rockout Nit001
    Nightshades/Stompin’ Beat CDM Psycho 78
  • with Colbert Hamilton
    Cadillac Baby– Vinyl Japan JRT02
    Still Taggin’ Along – Vinyl Japan JRCD05
    Wild At Heart– Nervous Nerd076
  • Compilation albums
    One track (Destruction Road) on I Love My Car – Fury Records
    One track (Echoes Of Love) on Katz Keep Rocking Vol.1– Link
    One track (Taxi Cab) on Katz Keep Rocking Vol.2– Link
    One track (Big Sandy) on Twenty Blasters From Blighty– NV Comp1
    One track (Running Out Of Time) on Outrage Vol.1– Rage 104
    Two tracks (Midnight Special, All I Can Do Is Cry) on Outrage Vol.2– Rage 105
    Three tracks (I’ll Get Mine, Teenager’s Mother, Something’s Gotta Give) on Five Inches Of Pleasure

© Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Thanks to John O’Malley and Rich Taylor.

Rantanplan

in Albums/Contemporary artists/R/Reviews

rantanplan_two_worlds_at_once_cdRantanplan – Two Worlds At Once

Link Records / Anagram  [1990]
Rantanplan ~ Watch Me Goin’ Off ~ Unknown Girl ~ Go Out Cherie ~ Bad Games ~ Container Love ~ Chinese Boy ~ Liberty Baby ~ Riding To Nowhere ~ My Bed Is Too Small ~ Inspite Of No Feet ~ Bikini Girls With Machine Guns.
Rantanplan, whose name comes from a famous French comic strip character,  never claimed to have big ambitions and played mostly for fun (and I suspect for free booze too). However they managed to have one album out on Link in the Chuck Flintstone serie which is reissued now on Anagram/Cherry Red.
This album is very representative of the psychobilly sound one could hear in the second half of the 80’s with a light sound (here, very light due to the thin production) and the slap bass to the fore. The result is neither good nor bad, it’s just average. It’s mainly due to the production, the lack of a good guitar player able to play solos and original numbers that are not very… originals. The booklet contains detailed liner notes with a history of the band. .

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Frantic Flintstones

in Albums/Contemporary artists/EF/Reviews

Frantic Flintstones - Nightmare On Nervous
Frantic Flintstones – Nightmare On Nervous

Frantic Flintstones – A Nightmare on Nervous

Nervous Records NERCD034 [1988]
Hellfire – Monte Carlo or Bust – 44 – Please Cool Baby – Oh Baby oh Yeah – Alley Cat King – Gone Gone Well Gone – Red Chevy – Ring ring ringin’ – What the Hell – Sugar Daddy – Frantic Flintstones – Safe Surf – Shake Your Honey Maker – Old Jack Joe – Jack the Ripper – Whisky Bottle Baby
Released in 1988, A Nightmare On Nervous marks the debut of a prolific career. In a certain aspect you can compare it to an early Johnny Cash album. By that I mean that this guy turn their weak points into a strength. With a guitarist far from being a virtuoso, they build their songs around Chuck’s distinctive voice and a solid rhythm section that features Gary Day on bass. Sometimes the system shows its limits. Songs like “Suggar Daddy” and “Monte Carlo and bust“, though good, could easily be one minute shorter. But this album is full of classics approaching different styles : early psychobilly (Alley Cat King, What The Hell), neo-rockabilly (44, Red Chevy) and even a wild rockin’ blues (Billy Fury’s Since You’ve Been Gone renamed here Gone Gone Well Gone). The cd version features 5 bonus tracks recorded later with Gasty on bass : two covers played the Flintstones way “Shake Your Honey Maker” and “Old Black Joe“, “Safe Surf” a semi instrumental (Safe surf repeated a dozen times doesn’t count as lyrics, does it?) variation around “Hang 10”, “Jack The Ripper” is not Screaming Lord Sutch’s but another version of “Necro Blues“, and an excellent original “Whisky Bottle Baby” previously known in a live version on the “Live & Rockin'” album.


Frantic Flintstones - Live and Rockin'
Frantic Flintstones – Live and Rockin’

Frantic Flintstones – Live’n’Rockin

Link  [1988]
Alone Again – Round the Mountain – What The Hell -. Shake Your Moneymaker – No One Stays – Rockin’Bones – Necro Blues – Hang Ten – Bedrock – Old Black Joe – Gone Gone Well Gone – Playschool Baby – Just Because -. Whisky Bottle Baby – One Night Stand – Blue Christmas

The Live and Rockin’ serie on Link was mostly a poorly recorded (and often poorly played) affair. One notable exception was the Frantic Flintstone live album recorded during the Rocking Out tour in November 1988. Despite being recorded just after the departure of ace bass player Gary “Gaz” Day who is replaced by Gasty from the Blue Ridge Rockets, it found the Flintstones in top form playing classics one after another. The songs come from Nightmare on Nervous, Rockin’ Out and for the large part Not A Christmas Album recorded a couple of weeks after this gig. It hasn’t been reissued on CD which is a shame but you can download it – legally – on Amazon or on other sites that sells music.


Frantic FLintstones - Take A Hike
Frantic FLintstones – Take A Hike

Frantic Flintstones – Take A Hike

Kix 4 U KIXCD3363 [1991]
Your Cheatin’ Heart – Dream On-Blue – Just A Dream – Sweet Nothings – So Sad – Little old Lady – Necro Blues – Burned’n’Turned – Rockin’ Bones – Frantic – Honey Maker – Gone Gone Well Gone – Blue Xmas – Santa Bring My Baby Back – Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Old Black Joe – Dream On-move
Though the sound is quite good, this album is far from being essential. Actually, on the 17 songs , 7 come from “Not A Christmas Album”, 3 are re-recorded versions of Flintstones classics (Burned and Turned, Rockin’ Bones, Necro blues) and in the remaining 7, Dream On is featured two times (a slow one and a fast one). That said the new versions are excellent, the group is in fine form and the Frantic Flintstones have released far worst than this album. One for the completist.


Frantic Flintstones – Cuttin’ A Fine Line

Rumble RUMBCD009 / Raucous RAUCD0000106 [1991]
Chilled bones – You’re the one who done it – Sweet Marilee – Jungle love – Time of day – You got me rockin’ – Tom Dooley – Gotta know – Brown eyed girl – Boneshaker baby – Slowly killing me – Don’t want you baby – Drug squad – West of London – Love me – Am I that easy to forget.

Released in the early nineties for the German label Rumble Records (Scum Rats, Rockabilly Mafia, Punishers etc.) “Cuttin’ A Fine Line” finds the band in superb form with the return of Gaz Day on bass with Rich Taylor on drums (Nitros), Pug still on guitar and of course the unmistakable voice of Chuck Harvey. This excellent album (one the very best ever released by the band) mixes classic psychobilly numbers (Chilled Bones, Don’t Want You Baby that features Gaz on lead vocals), blues (Time Of A Day), first class rockabilly (You’re The One That Done It, Sweet Marilee, Gotta Know), skiffle (Tom Dooley) and some country songs like West Of London and Drug Squad that deals with one of Chuck’s favourite subject. The selection is rounded with two acoustic numbers (Elvis’Love Me and Am I That Easy To Forget) with just Pug and Chuck that announces their following album, the all acoustic Skin Up, Chill Out, Just Buskin’ Through.


Frantic Flintstones - Skin Up, Chill Out, Just Buskin' Through
Frantic Flintstones – Skin Up, Chill Out, Just Buskin’ Through

Frantic Flintstones – Skin Up, Chill Out, Just Buskin’ Through

Rumble RUMCD018/ Raucous [1992]
Hello Marylou – Blue Moon of Kentucky – Will the Circle be Unboken – You Are my Sunshine – Tom Dooley – I Can’t Help it – Born to Lose – Goodnight Irene – It’s Hard to be Humble – Love me – Drugs in the Valley – Take me Home, Country Roads – I Gotta Baby – Am I That Easy to Forget
The only thing predictable with the Frantic Flintstones is that they are unpredictable. For this record originally released on Rumble Records in 1992 the band – reduced to just Chuck and Pug – went for an acoustic session. The mood is very laid back and the repertoire is made of covers of classic rockabilly and hillbilly tunes taken from the catalog of Hank Williams, Mac Davis, John Denver, Ricky Nelson, Elvis, Johnny Cash, The Carter Family and though they appear in brand new version here, some of them have been recorded by the band before. It’s not completely representative of the style of the Frantic Flintstones but it’s a nice addition to your collection.


The Frantic Flintstones - Rock it Boy
Frantic Flintstones – Rock it Boy

Frantic Flintstones – Rock it Boy

Rumble RUMBCD024 [1993]
Marylou – You Call Everybody Darlin’ – You Ain’t Nothing But Fine – I Cant Trust Me In Your Arms Anymore – Carry Me Back To Old Virginia – Blues Stay Away From Me – Blue Moon Of Kentucky – Your Cheatin’ Heart – I’m Walkin’ – Sweet Baby Doll – Will The Circle Be Unbroken – So CLose To Heaven – Jimmy Jazz – Love For A Nutter – Broken Heart

Originally released in 1993, this is the third Frantic Flintstones’ album for the German label Rumble records. And like “Cuttin’…” and “Skill Up…” it has a strong rockabilly flavour in it. The line-up for this one is Chuck, Pug, Johnny Bowler (Get Smart, Guana Batz) and Scag. It’s a very good album that only lacks of original songs, but with a charismatic band-leader like Chuck (and a solid band to back him) that’s not such a big problem. The band draws into the catalog of Jerry Lee Lewis, hence the presence of a piano, Ricky Nelson, Rockin’ Sydney, Johnny Burnette/Delmore Brothers, Hank Williams and delivers an excellent rockabilly version of the Clash’s Jimmy Jazz. As usual with the FF it features different versions of previously released tunes like Blue Moon Of Kentucky, Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Your Cheatin’ Heart wasted by the backing vocals. “Love For A Nutter” is a demo recorded with Alan Wilson that announces the following albums (X-Ray Sessions and Jalmboree) and the beginning of a fruitful collaboration. Bowler closes the set with a vocal prestation on “Broken Heart” that won’t figure as one of the highest moment in the Frantic Flintstones history. It’s been reissued on the British label Raucous Records with a slightly different cover.


Frantic Flintstones - Jamboree
Frantic Flintstones – Jamboree

Frantic Flintstones – Jamboree

CDMPSYCHO15 [1993]
Detroit Dirtbox – Love For A Nutter – Your Time Is Up – Mean Mean Woman – Diablo – Stay With Me – Sweet Georgia Brown – Lunatics (Are Raving) – Busted – Mindkill – (To The Devil)A Son – Oh 898 – Candyman – He’s Waitin’ – Sad N’ Lonely – Suspended – Chop-Chop, Slash Slash – Honey Child – Hey Chuck – Detroit Bloodbox

Previously issued in 1993 but out of print since then, Anagram had the good idea to reissue this 20 songs album in their Psychobilly serie. Produced by Sharks frontman Alan Wilson who also plays most of the guitar parts, with former bassist Gary Day back in the line-up, this is one of the 3 best album the Frantic Flinstones ever made and probably the richest in styles approached. Wilson is one hell of a guitar player and songwriter and his team with Chuck Harvey is just perfect. From “Diablo” with its surprising jazzy solo in the middle, to the country tune “To the Devil A Son”, and even a waltz (“Sad’n’Lonely”) they apparently have fun to work together and explore various kind of music. Some guests are present too. Detroit Donny plays harmonica on “Detroit Dirt Box” a bluesy instrumental and on Roy Orbison’s “Candyman”, Sonny West, who had an album on Nervous, plays some guitars and sings The Sonics’ “He’s Waitin’”. Alan Wilson sings “Mindkill” he co-wrote with Hodges. This one can be seen as the first song from the resurrected Sharks for this is during this recording that Gaz Day convinced him to reform the band. Psychobilly is present, of course, with”Your Time Is Up” which is not far from “What The Hell” on their debut album, “Sweet Georgia Brown” (not the jazz standard) and the great “Love For A Nutter”, although I do prefer the demo version issued on “Rock It Boy”. Add a bit of rockabilly (“Honey Child” and “Mean Mean Woman”) and if you still wonder why are the Frantic Flinstones so great, just ask yourself who could better than them sing a song about a psycho killer like a sixties pop ballad?

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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