Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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Gary Day

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.

Nitros (the) – reviews

in Albums/Contemporary artists/MN/Reviews
The Nitros - Nightshades/Stompin' Beat
The Nitros – Nightshades/Stompin’ Beat

The Nitros – Nightshades/Stompin’ Beat

CDM Psycho 78 [2009]
Cat With 9 Lives / Deadly Nightshades / Saigon Baby / Misery / Crazy Crazy Crazy / Medusa / Get Off My Wagon / Well Now Baby / I’m Doing Fine / What’s Gonna Come Of Me / Stompin’ Beat / I’ll Cry Instead / Scrapin’ The Barrel / Crazy Little Thing Called Love / I Ain’t Mad / Gotta Pay / Rockin’ All Night / Dying Day / Devil’s Ship / Swingsville / Running Out Of Time / All I Can Do Is Cry / Midnight Special

 

 


The Nitros - Something's Gotta Give!
The Nitros – Something’s Gotta Give!

Rockout NITLP001 [1993]
North’n’South – Love ‘Em ‘N’ Leave ‘Em – Something’s Gotta Give! – One For You – All I Can Do Is Cry – I’ll Get Mine – I Ain’t The Giving Kind – I Won’t Worry Any More – Big Sandy – What It Worth? – I Wrote My Baby A Letter – Midnight Special

 

 

 


The Nitros - North'n'South
The Nitros – North’n’South

Rockout NITEP001 [1993]
North ‘n’ South – I’ll Get Mine – Wrote My Baby A Letter – Midnight Special

 

 

 

 

 


The Nitros - Stompin' Beat
The Nitros – Stompin’ Beat

The Nitros – Stompin’ Beat

Nervous NERD 049 [1990]
I’m Doing Fine – What’s Gonna Come Of Me – Stompin’ Beat – I’ll Cry Instead – Scrapin’ The Barrel – Crazy Little Thing Called Love – I Ain’t Mad – Gotta Pay – Rockin’ All Night – Dying Day – Devil’s Ship – Swingsville

 

 


The Nitros - Nightshades
The Nitros – Nightshades

The Nitros – Nightshades

Link LINK MLP 062 [1988]
Cat With 9 Lives – Deadly Nightshades – Saigon Baby – Misery – Crazy Crazy Crazy – Medusa – Get Off My Wagon – Well Now Baby

Sharks (the)

in Contemporary artists/Reviews/S
 The Sharks ‎– Phantom Rockers
The Sharks ‎– Phantom Rockers

 The Sharks ‎– Phantom Rockers

Nervous records ‎– NERD 008 [1983]

Moonstomp – Skeleton Rock – It’s All Over Now – Crazy Maybe – Take A Razor To Your Head – Death Row -Love Bites – Short Shark Shock – Ruff Stuff – Phantom Rockers – Charlie! – Slipped Disc – I Can’t Stop – Electrifyin’ – Ghost Train* – We Say Yeah* (* cd only)

 

 


The Sharks - First and Last Live
The Sharks – First and Last Live

The Sharks – First and Last Live

Nervous /Crazy Love [1988 – reissue 2002]
Rock The Joint ~ Pink & Black ~ Tired ‘n’ Sleepy ~ Teenage Boogie ~ Tear It Up ~ Wildcat Rock ~ Sugar Doll ~ We Say Yeah ~ Deathrow ~ Moonstomp ~ Ghost Train ~ Crazy Maybe ~ Buddy Can You Spare A Dime ~ It’s All Over Now ~ Phantom Rockers ~ Chainsaw Charlie ~ I Can’t Stop.

This album captures two shows. The first one has been recorded by the trio at the beginning of their career and the second is the last they played just before they split in 1983, hence the title. It’s mostly made for fans and it’s surely not the best album to discover this great and highly influential band. But it remains very interesting. You can hear a band of teenagers evolving from a good rockabilly cover band (the first show: well played but nothing too exceptional) into a tight psychobilly unit, this time with self penned material and a sound truly of their own.


The Sharks - Live In Japan
The Sharks – Live In Japan

The Sharks – Live In Japan

Crazy Love CLCD 64143
Deathrow – Bye Bye Girl – Cold Heart – Crazy Maybe – Dealer – Schitzoid Man – Love Bites – Morphine Daze – Side Show Freak – Between Two Worlds – Moonstomp – Surf Caster – Phantom Rockers – Charlie – Time Bomb – Ghost Train – Skeleton Rock.
The psychobilly scene counts very few solid live recordings. The reason can be found in the fact that the majority has been released in the mediocre Live’n’Rockin’ serie on Link records. But one can find some exception like The Meteors Live I, The Quakes’ Live In Tokyo, Long Tall Texans’ Five beans In The Wheel (though it’s half fake), Live’n’Undead by the Nekromantix and on top of the list : “Live In Japan” by the Sharks.
 This live recording has been captured on tape in September 1998 in Nagoya and Tokyo, during a successful tour of Japan with the pair Wilson and Whitehouse (both on top form) and Carl Parry (guitar player for Frenzy at the time) on drums who replaces Hodge the original drummer. 
The set spans the entire career of the band with “Phantom Rockers” taking the lion’s share. The trio gives a breath of fresh air – and even surpasses the studio recordings – to their classics like Love Bites, Charlie, Moonstomp and breathtaking versions of Skeleton Rock and Ghost Train. The songs from “Colour My Flesh” and “Recreationnal Killer” are well represented too here and the live gives a grittier sound than the well produced studio versions.
There’s a spirit of sheer joy (even with songs about vampires, psycho killer, electric chairs…) all along this hour plus of tight musicianship (remember we’re talking about Alan Wilson and Steve Whitehouse) that is highly communicative. In the end it’s more than a great psychobilly album, it’s a great rock’n’roll album (that deals with kids with chainsaw, girls from Transylvannia and so on, okay I know).


The Sharks - Songs from the Sarcophagus
The Sharks – Songs from the Sarcophagus

The Sharks – Songs from the Sarcophagus

Western Star [2011]
She’s Fallen In Love With A Monster Man – Draculas Daughter – Jack The Ripper – Monster In Black Tights

We’ve waited for years for it. Here it is, at last, a brand new release from those neo-rockabilly/psychobilly masters.
This 4 songs vinyl ep is a tribute to the late Screaming Lord Sutch and who was more designed to do it than the Sharks and Joe Meek specialist Alan Wilson? They manage to give their own rendition of these classics while staying true to Meek and Sutch versions.
A total, definite and absolute must have.


 

The Sharks - Infamy
The Sharks – Infamy

The Sharks – Infamy

Western Star WSRC 057 {2012}
House of Wax – A Tornado Called Smith – Holloway Road – The King Of London – First Men On the Moon – Control – Ship To Shore – Hell Riders – I Can’t Believe You’re Back – Breakin’ Bones – Luck O’ The Irish – Desert Diamond – She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man

The Sharks are back! After a 15 year hiatus Alan Wilson (guitar, vocals), Steve Whitehouse (super sonic slap bass, vocals) and Hodge finally got together again to record a new album. I must say that I was a little apprehensive when I put the cd in the player. Could the band match my high expectations, after all they had released some of the best neo/psychobilly album made in the 80’s (Phantom Rockers) and the 90’s (Recreationnal Killer and Color My Flesh). Recently released material on compilation albums and an ep showed they were still in good shape, but could they make it on long distance? It took just one song to see all my doubts vanish. Not only the Sharks were good but they sounded better than ever, benefiting of 30 years of experience in term of producing, playing and writing songs. Most of all they managed to keep what make their identity and reinvent themselves in the same time. You don’t have a band of fifty year old men (or so) who run after their youth, trying to sound like they did in thirty years ago. They don’t come back by pure nostalgia but because they have solid songs to defend (mostly penned by Wilson with the exception of the First Men On the Moon co-written with Whitehouse and Lord Sutch’s She’s Fallen In Love With the Monster Man). Of course there are hot psychobilly numbers like House Of Wax (perfect opener with superb vocals from Whitehouse), A Tornado Called Smith (listen to this guitar solo, it kills!), Men On the Moon and Breakin Bones (already a classic alternating slow and fast parts). Next to this psychobilly gems you’ll find an instrumental mixing Surf guitar with Mariachi music (Hell Riders),  60’s country music with a Bakersfield feel (Desert Diamond), and a great tribute to Joe Meek in the form of a pop song (Holloway Road) featuring female backing vocals and Merv Pepler (Frenzy) playing some strange noises that would have pleased the producer of Telstar. Other real life character also have their own song like the notorious bare knuckle boxer Pretty Boy Shaw (The King Of london with plunking piano) and Ronald Biggs. That’s what I call a casting!  More surprising is Luck’o the Irish sung by Doyley (Klingonz) with accordion and penny whistle for a full Pogues ambiance.
It was worth a wait of 15 years..
Comes in a nice digipack with lyrics included.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

 

The Sharks
The Sharks

 

 

The Gazmen

in Reviews/Singles
The Gazmen - Rigormortis Rock
The Gazmen – Rigormortis Rock

The Gazmen – Rigormortis Rock

Vinyl Japan JRT9
Rigormortis Rock – Teenage Operation – Kid From Mars – Ace Of Heart

This ep came out in 1996. The Gazmen were formed around the charismatic personnality of Gary “Gaz” Day, known for his collaboration with many influential bands, notably The Frantic Flintstones, The Sharks, The Nitros, The Caravans without forgetting his stint with popstar (and rockabilly afficionado) Morrissey, whose influence can be heard on the last track of this ep. The rest of the band was basically The Sharks with the addition of ex Born Bad and Morrissey’s guitarist, Alain Whyte. They played a traditionnal psychobilly close to the Sharks (not very surprising) and the early Meteors, Day’s voice reminding the great Nigel Lewis, but with a fuller sound. The song Rigormortis Rock was first released by Alan Wilson (who wrote it ) under the band name of The Space Cadets (not to be confused with Mouse’s band) around 1984 on the Nervous compilation Hell’s Bent on Rocking. Some of these songs were also part of the set when Gary was in the Sharks.
This ep has been re-released on cd in 2000 on the american Rock It label but is also out of print. This four songs are now available on the Anagram compilation album Rockin’ With Morrissey’s sidemen.

Gazmen (the) – psychobilly band with Gaz Day

in Profiles

GazmenThe Gazmen

Country: England
Genre: Psychobilly

Gary Day: vocals / bass
Alain Whyte: guitar
Alan Wilson: guitar
Hodge: drums

Gary "Gaz" Day
Gary “Gaz” Day

The Gazmen were formed around the charismatic personnality of Gary “Gaz” Day, known for his collaboration with many influential bands, notably The Frantic Flintstones, The Sharks, The Nitros, The Caravans without forgetting his stint with popstar (and rockabilly afficionado) Morrissey.. The rest of the band was basically The Sharks with the addition of ex-Born Bad and Morrissey’s guitarist, Alain Whyte. They played a traditionnal psychobilly close to the Sharks (not very surprising) and the early Meteors, Day’s voice reminding the great Nigel Lewis, but with a fuller sound.
The Gazmen released one four-track ep on Vinyl Japan in 1996, later reissued in cd due to Day’s popularity in Morrissey’s band. The songs were Rigormortis Rock (previously recorded by Alan Wilson under the moniker of the Space Cadets for a Nervous compilation), Teenage Operation, Kid from Mars and Ace of Hearts (that has a strong Morrissey feel). Some of these songs were part of the Sharks set when Gary was in the band (see the compilation album Rare Psychobilly from the Vault of X-Ray Studio). More songs were recorded but never saw the light of day. The line-up later evolved, including Pug from the Frantic Flintstones and Stuart from the Guana Batz.
They appeared at different all dayers including one Big Rumble I guess.
The Gazmen were a very good band and one can only regret they never released a full album.

Rigormortis Rock – Vinyl Japan JRT9 [1996]
Reissue on CD on Rock-It Records [2000]

The Mysterons

in Profiles

Country: England
Genre: Psychobilly

Gary Day: double bass / vocals
Johnny “Pug” Peet: guitar / vocals
Mark Clements: drums

The Mysterons were a psychobilly band heavily influenced by the early Meteors that lasted from mid 1986 to mid 1987.
They recorded a four track demo tape with “No One Stays“, “House Of Rockin’ Bones“, “Crazy Blood” and “Highway To Hell“. The band wasn’t really going anywhere so they decided to split. Day joined the Frantic Flintstones and was joined by Pug on their second album Rockin’ Out (Link records) that features No One Stays and House Of Rockin’ Bones.
Mark Clements joined a ska band called the Riffs.

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