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Nervous records

Jackals (the)

Jackals (the) – Prowlin’

Nervous Records NERD038 [1988]
Ice Cold Blues – Makes You Scream – Too Crucial – She’s The One – Some Body’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight – I’ll Go Crazy – No Brain – Party Train – My Baby Loves Rock ‘N’ Roll – The Fly – Ghetto Ride – What’s Wrong

Jackals Prowlin'

The Jackals were an American band from Portland, Oregon active between 1983 and 1992. The quartet was formed by David Corboy (guitar), Louis Samora (guitar), Rob Parker (drums), and Steve Casmano (bass). The band first released an album on Anubis records in 1984 before recording this one at Falcon Studios in 1988 for Nervous Records.
The strength and particularity of the Jackals is that three of the members (all except Parker) sing. This gives a rich and varied repertoire. Ice Cold Blues is heavy blues-rock quite similar to what George Thorogood does with tracks like If You Don’t Start Drinkin’. The tension does not fall, far from it, with Makes You Scream, a hard-hittin’ Rock’n’Roll which rushes at full speed and does not seem to want to stop.
Lighter, More Crucial is an excellent boppin’ Neo-Rockabilly. The following track is in the same spirit and evokes the style of the Rockats.
The group changes register with their cover of Somedy’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked Tonight by Earl Vince and the Valiants (aka Fleetwood Mac). The sound is raw and wild, almost Punk. The next track is also a cover, an excellent version of James Brown’s I’ll Go Crazy.
No Train is solid Modern Rock. Still on the “train” theme, Party Train has the power of a Blasters track. My Baby Loves Rock’n’Roll is a boppin’ Rock’n’roll, and even if it is not very original, the tune is devilishly effective, especially with two fantastic guitar solos.
The Fly is a Chubby Checker cover, resulting in a high-octane and energic version of Twist. The group continues with a powerful instrumental close to Webb Wilder’s style (Cactus Planet, Rough Rider). The album ends with What’s Wrong. It’s not the most original track on the album, but it’s still very effective.
Released between the first album of the Quakes and the second album of Skitzo, Prowlin contrasts a little with the label’s production, which at the time was very Psychobilly-oriented. However, it deserves to be rediscovered, and the classic Rock’nRoll lover will find plenty to enjoy with this album.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Lost Souls (the)

Lost Souls (the) – Chasin’ A Dream

Nervous Records NERD054 [1990]
Chasin’ A Dream  All Day And All Of The Nigh – Prisoner Of Love – Dancing With Myself – Still Feel The Pain – Only One For Me – Dead Stay Dead – Devil in Disguise – Surf Bitch – She’s Gone – Skid Row – Never Gonna Stop – Death Bone Alley – Lost Souls

Lost Souls

Lost Souls began in the mid-80s as a four-piece band. They then evolved as a trio and were discovered by Roy Williams, who sent them to Madhouse studio to record their debut album produced by Mickey Mutant (Meteors, Coffin Nails, Restless). The lineup on this album consists of Mark Broome on double bass and vocals, Neal Hattersley on guitar and vocals and Ian Lydell on drums.
Released in March 1990, Chasin’ A Dream is very representative of the Psychobilly sound of the era, namely a wicked and raspy voice, a light electric guitar (sometimes similar to the early Frantic Flintstones) and a powerful rhythm section led by an even more powerful and fast slap bass. 
The majority of this album is rather good and very pleasant, with excellent compositions. Moreover, the group has a good idea to add covers that have not been played ad nauseam, such as Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself and The Kinks’ All Day And All Of the Night.
There are a few weaker songs and a bit repetitive, but it’s a detail, and the whole thing is more than successful.

Colbert Hamilton & Hellrazors / Nitros

Colbert Hamilton

Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros – Like A Rebel

Migraine Records ‎– MR 45-042
Like A Rebel / Cruel Hearted Girl

Released in 2020, this single (limited to 500 copies on red vinyl) features two songs recorded in 1993 during the Still Taggin’ Along sessions.
If the excellent Cruel Hearted Girl is not new, the A-side, Like A Rebel penned by Hamilton and O’Malley is even better. It’s an outstanding neo-rockabilly number and it seems hard to believe that it didn’t end on the original album.


Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros – Love Or Glory Man

[2013]
Shake Rattle Bump ‘n’ Grind – Falling To Pieces – Roxette – Rehab – Bella Donna – Everybody Loves Me – Life’s A Bitch – Blue – Molly’s Chambers – Love Or Glory Man – I Was The One – I Didn’t See Memphis – Livin’ La Vida Loca – W.M.D.

Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros - Love Or Glory Man
Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros – Love Or Glory Man

It’s good to see Colbert Hamilton team again with John O’Malley and the Nitros (who are for this album Jason King on double bass and Guy Shalom on drums). This is great neo-rockabilly, Hamilton having a perfect voice for that style and O’Malley’s jazzybilly guitar is everywhere. There’s a majority of self-penned tune either by Hamilton or O’Malley that are quite good. I wouldn’t say the same about the covers. “I Was the One” featuring Mark Keeley of Good ROckin’ Tonight on piano is okay but Amy Winehouse’s Rehab, Prince’s Everybody Loves Me or worse Ricky Martin’s Livin La Vida Loca seem very odd choices to me but as I said the originals are good enough and you can skip the covers and have a solid neo-rockabilly album.


Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros – Wild At Heart

Nervous Nerd076 [1994]
Lucille – Wild At Heart – Still Rockin’ After All These Beers – Bad Reputation – Too Late – Boom Boom – Do You Wanna Rock? – Abused By You – High Flyin’ Cat – Boogaville – Pass The Bottle To The Baby – The Boys Are Back In Town – Big In The World – Ninety Nine Girls


Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros – Still Tagging Along

Vinyl Japan JRCD05 [1993]
Get out of my sight – Cruel hearted girl – Rollercoaster rock – Gaze into the crystal – Wasn’t that good – Cadillac baby – Dead of night – Black magic – Get you back – New place in town – Stop – Haunted memories

Colbert Hamilton

Recorded in 1992 and released the following year, Still Tagging Along saw Colbert Hamilton teaming with the Nitros (John O’Malley, Rich Taylor and Gary Day).
Get Out Of My Sight, written by Tony Coni (of the Hellrazors), begins with restrained tension before exploding into superb Neo-Rockabilly fireworks. Cruel Hearted Girl is just as excellent but with an emphasis on melody. Rollercoaster Rock is a classic Rock’n’Roll. Gaze Into The Crystal is built around a catchy riff around which O’Malley adds embellishments. The slightly veiled voice adds even more to the mysterious atmosphere of the song. Wasn’t that good is a cover of Wynonie Harris. Without horns, the song takes a more rockabilly turn. Once again, O’Malley’s guitar, combined with Hamilton’s voice, does wonder. Cadillac Baby, written by Hamilton and Coni (probably during the Hellrazors days), ends the first side.
Dead of Night is a Neo-rockabilly masterpiece. It’s one of the very best tunes of the genre. Taylor and Day build a solid rhythm, O’Malley’s guitar keeps the tension before bursting into a hot solo, and Hamilton’s voice is the icing on the cake.
Originally done by Jericho Jones, Black Magic alternates between Diddley-tinged parts and classic Rockabilly. The following three songs, while good, are more average. Get You Back and Stop are not that original in their form and structure, and New Place In Town is slightly too long to convince.
But all that is quickly forgotten with the fantastic jazzy ballad Haunted Memories. Alan Heller adds a second guitar and piano to complete the orchestration. Once again, the rhythm section does a superb job, with Taylor playing with brushes. Hamilton is perfectly at ease as a suave crooner, and O’Malley places subtle accelerations sounding like Django during his electric period, who would have crossed paths with Mark Harman.
Despite two or three more average songs, Still Taggin’ Along is an album that any Neo-Rockabilly lover must have.
The first pressing came out on pink vinyl.


Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros – Cadillac Baby

Vinyl Japan JRT02 [1993]
Cadillac Baby – Silver Bullet – Cruel Hearted Girl – Born To Love One Woman

Released at the same time as the album, this EP is its perfect complement. Cadillac Baby and Cruel Hearted Girl appear on the album. Silver Bullet, a composition by Rich Taylor, the drummer is a superb melodic tune and would have had its place on the album, especially as a replacement for less original songs (New Place In Town for example). Don Johnston’s Born To Love One Woman receives the Hamilton/Nitros treatment and becomes an excellent Neo-Rockabilly. Released in translucent red vinyl.

Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros
Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros (John O’Malley, Rich Taylor, Gary Day)

Colbert Hamilton and the Hellrazors – s/t

Fearless Records – FEAR LP001 [1984]
Wow – Mystery Train – Half-Hearted Women – Women Love – Rock Therapy – Long Blonde Hair – Ice Cold – Long Black Shiny Car – Nervous Breakdown – Love Me – I’m So High – Good Rockin’ Tonight – I’ll Never Let You Go – Don’t Knock Upon My Door – Love Me

Some records are revolutionary, some are very good, and some, despite minor flaws, are like good friends you like to stay with. I consider the debut album of Colbert Hamilton like a good friend.
On one hand, this is an all-cover album (ranging from Gene Vincent to Restless), and the sound is a bit thin concerning the production. On the other hand, Colbert Hamilton has an impressive voice, and the Hellrazors (Toni Coni on guitar, Tony Parkes on slap bass, and Julie Gardner on drums) do a perfect job backing him. The rhythm section is simple yet powerful and effective, with prominent slap bass, and Miss Gardner plays mainly on the snare. It keeps the raw essence of the genre and is ably completed by Coni’s lightly electrified guitar.
All in all, it’s a good album recommended to anyone interested in the British neo-rockabilly sound of the mid-eighties.

Coffin Nails

Coffin Nails - Who's He? - Nervous
Coffin Nails – Who’s He? – Nervous

Coffin Nails – Who’s He?

Nervous 059 [1990]
Skeleton swamp – Humungus’s horse blues – Midnight hour – Unbalanced – Been around the world – Inspector Clueso – She’s a moose – Mission impossible – Dr. Frankenstein’s castle – Carling Black Label – The loch – Peter (the street cleaner)

Released in 1990 after the disastrous Live’n’Rockin’, Who’s He? is the band’s first studio album recorded with a slap bass. Needless to say that The Coffin Nails had something to prove and this platter was a mighty fine surprise. Produced by Pete Gage, they never sounded so good. Humungus’ voice has improved a lot even though he’s a bit ambitious when he covers “Midnight Hour”. The new members, Scott Milsom on slap bass and Nasser Bouzida (ex member of the ska band The Loafers), bring a welcome dose of fresh air.
In the end Who’s He? is a very good psychobilly album with touches of hillbilly (Humungus’ Hore Blues) and ska (Been All Around The World) played by a band that doesn’t take it too seriously.


 Coffin Nails – Live and Rockin’

Coffin Nails - Live and Rockin'
Coffin Nails – Live and Rockin’

Cherry Red/Anagram cdmpsycho60 {1990}

Please Little Woman – Heartbreak Hotel – Skateboard Frenzy – Brand New Cadillac – Penetration – Let’s Wreck – Myra Hindley – Do You Love Me – Loose Loose Woman (She’s A Moose) – Uncle Willy – Blubbery Love (Saintly Snails) – Psycho Disease – My Baby Left Me

The Coffin Nails have without a doubt played during their career numerous gigs that were worth recording, so why did Link records release this particular show on record remains a mystery. And why Cherry Red/Anagram reissues it is another mystery. Recorded in late 1989 in front of a small crowd (so small you can’t barely call it a crowd), they seem totally unrehearsed: the drummer (who only played on this album) is sometimes off beat and Humungus makes mistakes one after another and almost forgets the lyrics of the songs. Even Humungus admits that this records is their worst one. It’s a pity because when you see the setlist it could have been a great album including all their classics. Prefer to this album the live compilation “Sick Sick Sick” (also featuring Skitzo and Demented Are Go) or their most recent live album “Big Night Out”.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Coffin Nails
Coffin Nails


Coffin Nails – A Fistful of Burgers

Coffin nails

Link Records LINK LP 058 [1988]
Penetration (Orgasmic Mix) – Please Little Woman – Come Back To School – Trust In Me – Heartbreak Hotel – For A Few Burgers More – If Only Mother Could See You Now – My Baby Left Me – Coffin Nails – Nothing To Lose – Blubbery Love (Saintly Snails) – Loose, Loose Woman (She’s A Moose)

In February 1988, Dave Ward left the Coffin Nails. The remaining trio kept on playing and recorded their second album for Link records with Humungus taking over the vocal duties.
But the vocalist is not the only thing that changed. The production is better, and the band seems more comfortable with the studio.
Penetration is a new version of the song that appeared on their debut album, complete with ladies’ screams to go with the theme. Not essential. Please Little Woman finds the band in full Rockabilly mode. Come Back to School is excellent, and very unusual from what one can find on the run-of-the-mill psychobilly albums. Trust in Me, penned by Gra, the bass player, is a mid-tempo, on a Diddley Beat, quite similar to what the Meteors did on an album like Stampede. Their cover of Heartbreak Hotel starts relatively close to the original before changing gear and going mental. The instrumental For A Few Burgers More is a rocking tribute to Ennio Morricone. Like Paul Fenech, Humungus knows how to melt Morricone and Hank Marvin in the same song.
If Only Mother Could See You Now is a great rocking track. Listening to this song could almost convince me that the Coffin Nails were better with an electric bass.
My Baby Left Me is a good rockabilly track. The song is an original and not a cover of the Elvis / Arthur Crudup track. Coffin Nails is a shoot of Psychobilly straight to your feet and is made for wrecking. Saintly Snails (Blueberry Love) has a bit of soul in it with Reverend Humungus preaching the gospel. Loose Woman concludes the album on a high rockin’ note.

Coffin Nails – Ein Bier Bitte

Nervous Records – NERD 031 [1987]
Skateboard Frenzy – Werewolf Bitch – Greased Lightning – Humungus – Let’s Wreck – The Lone Ranger / Plasma Pool – Myra Hindley – Natural Born Lover – Wind Up Dead – Penetration – Uncle Willy CD bonus tracks: Ain’t It True – House On The Haunted Hill – Brand New Cadillac – Outta This World

The Coffin Nails formed in mid-1985 with Tony Szajer (vocals), Steve “Humungus” Clarke (guitar), Graham Farr (electric bass) and Toby Griffin (drums).
This line-up released one excellent track (Plymouth Fury) on Zorch Factor One (Nervous 023) and appeared on Stompin At The Klub Foot 3 & 4, playing Let’s Wreck and Psycho Disease (both written by Clarke and Griffin).
Shortly after, Griffin left to join the Meteors, with whom he recorded a couple of albums, including the excellent, Don’t Touch the Bang Bang Fruit. Dave Ward, a friend of Griffin, replaced him on drums. The band kept on gigging, and in April 1987, one of these shows was recorded, and the Coffin Nails appeared on the Sick Sick Sick compilation album alongside Skitzo and Demented Are Go. This was Tony’s last release with the band, as he left the Coffin Nails around the same time. Dave Ward then took over the vocal duties, and the Coffin Nails recruited Robert “Smurf” Farquharson to play the drums.
The band generated enough interest for Roy Williams to propose them a recording deal. The band found itself in the studio with Doc Stewart producing. Ein Bier Bitte is a little nugget of aggressive Psychobilly, positioning them as rambunctious little brothers of the Meteors from the outset (Steve is a big fan of the group as evidenced by the tattoo he sports on his right arm.) The use of an electric bass reinforces this closeness in the sound. But, while Paul Fenech’s voice is vicious and high-pitched, Ward has a raspy, scratchy voice.
The album opens with a quote from the A-Team, setting the ball rolling with a surge of wild Psychobilly, sometimes flirting with bad taste when it comes to lyrics (Penetration). Like all good Psychobilly groups, we come across werewolves and serial killers (Myra Hindley). Let’s Wreck, more or less modelled on Chris Montez’s Let’s Dance, is a call to throw yourself headfirst into the first pit. The band covers two songs: Greased Lightnin and Natural Born Lover (in an entirely unrecognizable version for the latter.)
Clarke provides much of the material alone (like the instrumental Humungus) or in collaboration. His guitar playing, still rooted in Rockabilly, is perfect and consistently inventive. Some songs are a little weaker, but overall it’s an excellent start for the band. In an interview with Chip Waite for Southern & Rocking in 1995, Clarke complained about the production, saying that “(Stewart) tried making Dave sound like Demented Are Go”. This is quite unfair since the producer captured the energy of the band and the final result is one hell of a powerful album.

The radioactive Kid

Frenzy

Frenzy – Hall of Mirrors

Nervous NER016 [1985]
One last chance – Schitzophrenic emotions – Choice – Hall of mirrors(1) – Frenzy – Asylum moves – Skeleton rock – Sweet money – Ghost train – Long gone – Surfin’ bird – Was it me? – Wound up – Frustration – Hall of mirrors(2) – Robot riot – Cry or die – All alone – Torment

Frenzy – Hall of mirrors

If a label “classic psychobilly album” would exist, Hall Of Mirror would be among the first to deserve it.
In 1983, the split of the Sharks allowed Steve Whitehouse to fully concentrate on his new project: Frenzy. By many aspects Frenzy were more adventurous than the Sharks. It marked a new step for the psychobilly scene that was in full bloom and the band went into musical territories rarely explored by slap bass led combos. The recording of Hall Of Mirrors, produced by Paul “Doc” Stewart, began with Simon Brand on guitar and Merv Pepler on drums, this trio having already released one ep for a Dutch label (included on the cd reissues of this album). But Brand quickly left the band (he later formed Torment) with only three songs ready for the forthcoming album (Frustration, Frenzy, Sweet Money).
Whitehouse eventually hired Kev Saunders to complete the album. Both Saunders and Pepler came from different musical horizons and combined with the double bassist’s rockabilly background the result was an unusual, unique and explosive combination.

Frenzy
Frenzy

Musically speaking, Whitehouse fast slapping and technique proved to be a lasting influence for the many psychobilly bassmen that followed.
Hall Of Mirrors offered originals (including a reworking of the Sharks’ Skeleton Rock) and one cover (Surfin’ Bird) probably the only weak track of the album (but who could come after the Trashmen and the Cramps?).
The lyrics also set up new standard. I addition to the usual crew of ghosts, skeleton etc. you can also find songs about madness, frustration and teenage angst.
Brilliant!


Frenzy – Clockwork Toy

I.D. Records ‎– NOSE 8 [1986]
Clockwork Toy – I See Red – Misdemeanour – Nightmares – Love Is the Drug – Mexican Radio – Howard Hughes – In My Prison – Aftermath – Nobody’s Business

Frenzy - Clockwork Toy
Frenzy – Clockwork Toy

With Clockwork Toy, Frenzy confirmed their status of “Psychobilly band with more than two ideas in their songs”. The accent is put on arrangements and variations, giving more elaborated melodies (and sometimes more pop sounding) than your usual fast paced rockabilly (Misdemeanour, Clockwork Toy, Howard Hughes…). And if Whithehouse’s heavy slap bass links the whole thing to the rockabilly idiom (listen to “I See Red” – which spent some decent time in the indie charts – or “Nightmares“), the sound of the guitar doesnt owe anything to the genre. There’s a lot of production work. A powerfull live band, they also want to prove they can deliver a “real” album and not only a hastily live in the studio recording of stage favorites. These’ll remain a constant (with varied degrees of success) in Frenzy’s carreer. Retrospectivly, it sometimes turns to the disadvantage of the band and this will to explore technology shows its limits. The synthetizer’s sound on “Love Is A Drug” (yes Roxy Music’s one) or the drums on “Howard Hughes” sound terribly dated now, and let’s say it, very cheap.
But this minor flaws left aside, Clockwork Toys is as important, for different reasons, as their debut album and still stands today as a classic of the genre.
It’s later been reissued on cd with two b-sides from the same period and 3 songs from Sally’s Pink Bedroom

Frenzy

Frenzy – Sally’s Pink Bedroom

I.D. Records – NOSE 19 [1987]
The Red Book – Sign Of The Times – The Hunt – Game Of Love – Satisfaction – House On Fire – Like Father, Like Son – Man At The Top – Blue Eyes – Jumped The Gun – Run To You – Gotta Go!

Recorded in October 1987 and released the following month, Sally’s Pink Bedroom is Frenzy’s unloved album. On its release, it was shunned by a large part of the fans who criticized it for its polished sound, its arrangements, its covers of artists such as Tubeway Army, Katrina & the Waves or Bryan Adams and, oh sacrilege, its artwork on which Steve Whitehouse proudly poses with an electric bass.
Especially Psychobilly lovers did not find the group’s identity in this album, which had stormed the scene with two almost-perfect albums. In the end, Sally’s Pink Bedroom suffered a fate similar to Restless’s After Midnight.
But if we look more closely, this evolution was in germ from Clockwork Toy (after all, there is already a cover of Roxy Music’s Love Is A Drug). In addition, Whitehouse is a musician who has never hidden his interest in groups that go beyond the simple framework of music rooted in Rockabilly. Besides, was it not to escape a rockabilly scene that was too narrow-minded that he threw himself into the nascent Psychobilly, first with the Sharks, then Frenzy? The same goes for Kev Saunders and Merv Peppler.
But what about this album? Is it as catastrophic as the reputation that precedes it wants to say? Well no! I’m not saying this is the album I would use to introduce someone to Frenzy (do not exaggerate), but if you approach it with an open and curious mind, you’ll find more than enough to please you.
First, let’s get rid of the big crash, the industrial incident: their version of Satisfaction. Forget it! Once this done, we can seriously approach the rest of the album. This consists of two parts. One includes House On Fire, Man At The Top, The Hunt, Jumped The Gun (all written by the band), and Gotta Go, the G-Men (ex-Blue Cats) cover. These five songs are an extension of Clockwork Toy. House On Fire is quite simply one of the best songs ever recorded by Frenzy. Likewise, Man At The Top and Jumped the Gun demonstrate the band’s talent for composing songs with more than two melodic ideas, a skill many bands must envy. And what about the take on Gotta Go? Do you know many covers superior to the original version? Did Whitehouse suspect while recording this song that he would join the Blue Cats many years later?
The second group, composed of the remaining songs, shows a group experimenting and having fun. These songs are different from what you usually find on a Psychobilly record (but after all, it doesn’t say anywhere that it’s a Psychobilly record). Above all, these are good songs, no matter what label you put on them. Game Of Love (Katrina and the Waves) is a skilful cross between a sixties song and a Billy Idol track, while Run To You (Bryan Adams) has a little Soul side revisited by the 80s, finally quite close to what the Rockats did with One More Heartache.
Admittedly, Pat Collier’s production spoils a bit and seems quite dated today, especially on Sign Of The Time and Red Book, but the melodies and rhythms remain unstoppable.
If you own this album, do not hesitate to take it out of the limbo in which you left it 35 years ago. If you don’t have it, take off your blinders and enjoy the music (not the awful cover art.)


Frenzy – Live at the 100 Club

Nervous Records NER 033 – Raucous Records [1988]
I see red – Misdemeanour – Love is the drug 4.House on fire – Howard Hughes – The hunt – Clockwork toy – Migraine – Gotta go! – It’s All Over Now – Robot riot

Frenzy - Live at the 100 Club
Frenzy – Live at the 100 Club

In the quantity of live albums released by psychobilly bands, many were disappointing, whether they were poorly recorded (remember the Live & Loud serie on Link) or the band wasn’t able to recreate the studio recordings on stage. Among the best you find The Long Tall texansFive Beans In The Wheel, The SharksLive In Japan, a couple of Meteors and… Frenzy’s Live At The 100 Club. Recorded in 1986, it’s a magic combination of a perfect recording and a tight band of true professionnals, playing at that time 150 dates per year. The set draws heavily into Clockwork Toy recorded that same year.They kick off with a roaring version of their indie charts hit I See Red. Misdemeanor quickly follows, featuring a pumping slap bass, showing how good Steve Whitehouse is.Roxy Music’s Love Is A Drug is far better than the album version. The keyboards parts being replaced by a guest saxophonist giving a bit of a ska touch. They alternate “straight in your face” wild numbers (House On Fire) with their more complex and melodic songs (Clockwork Toy, Howard Hughes) with equal degrees of success. Next are a couple of covers, The Ricochets’Migraine, The G-Men’s Gotta Go and a epic 8 minute It’s All Over Now a song previously performed by Withehouse in The Sharks’ set. This perfect disc ends with a 100 mp/h rendition of their “early” classic Robot Riot that almost manages to make you forget the studio version. Issued on vinyl by Nervous in 1988, it’s been reissued by Raucous in 2001.


Frenzy – The Very Best-Of

Rage CD 107 [1990]

Frenzy - best-of
Frenzy – best-of

A very good overview of the band’s seven first years including songs from Hall Of Mirrors, Clockwork Toy and This Is the Fire as well as unreleased stuff like Long Gone recorded live at Hemsby and some b-sides too.


Frenzy – Live in Japan

Raucous Records RAUCD046
Nervous Breakdown- Clockwork Toy – Misdemeanour – Hall of Mirrors – I See Red – This is the Fire – CC Rider – Love is a Drug – Mad Mad World – Brand New Gun – Long Gone – Tush – Robot Riot – It’s All Over Now – Cry or Die

Frenzy Live in Japan

Another very good live album recorded in Japan (see Restless and the Sharks for others great live albums recorded in jpan with Steve Whitehouse) in 1993.

It’s a very powerful set with all the classics and a couple of covers like Brand New Gun (Tall Boys), Tush (ZZ Top), Nervous Breakdown (Cochran), CC Rider (Elvis) and Royx Music’s Love is a Drug.

It’s very different – and yet very complementary – to Live at the 100 Clubsince Carl Parry has a very Metal sound compared to Kev Saunders who was more ‘new wave meets rockabilly’. It sometimes a bit too much, but more often than not it works very well, even with the songs from Hall of Mirror and Clockwork Toy.

Paul “Doc” Stewart

Paul “Doc” Stewart

Paul “Doc” Stewart is an unsung hero of the Psychobilly / Rockabilly scene. Unless you’re a maniac like me who likes to read the covers from top to bottom (and even read the dead wax just in case…), you may not be familiar with his name. But Paul “Doc” Stewart recorded, engineered, and produced some of the best and the most innovative bands of the genre, including the Quakes, the Rapids, the Rattlers, Outer Limits, the Pharaohs, Frenzy, Torment…
Impressive, isn’t it? Well, here at the Rockabilly Chronicle, we thought that the man deserved an interview. So here it is, and thank you, Mr Stewart, for your work!

First, I’d like to know how you became interested in Rockabilly and Psychobilly?

Well I come from a family that has produced many musicians and performers over several hundred years, so it’s in the blood, and I was of course born in the mid 1950s, so l started to become aware of music then and in the pre Beatles 60s.
My mother was always on a mission to make sure my brothers and I were aware of the two most important things in life… which were Blues and Jazz. De who was eldest brother, was eight years my senior and he played a lot of rock and roll. When I say played I do mean played, he had a guitar and I can remember him with his ear pressed to the speaker of our old black and white TV, calling out the words of songs to my mum, who would write them down in shorthand, then type them up so he could learn them. So I grew up with a lot of rock and roll in the house.

What led you to produce albums?

I was always into the technology of making music, I got my first tape recorder in 1968 and started making recordings then. In 1973 I made my first professional recording of a band called “A Phantasy Circus”, which led to them getting a showcase with WEA Records and I just carried on doing things in music from then.

How did you get in touch with Roy Williams, with whom you worked extensively?

I worked at London’s most famous rock venue, the Rainbow Theatre, where I designed, installed and ran the recording studio and rehearsal facilities but after about 18 months I had the opportunity to go to the USA, so went there and worked with a number of bands while developing a business with my brother, who by this time was a DJ on a station in Charleston SC.

Frenzy
Frenzy

When I came back to the U.K., I was working both in photography and live sound with all manner of bands, including King Kurt at the University of North London. I then got a call from a studio in Harrow in the north of London. They told me that the owner Ozzie Burns, who was the original producer of the BeeGees was sadly very ill with cancer and they wanted me to run the studio for him. I had only been there about three weeks when a Teddy boy walked in to the place, with a BMX bike, about two sizes too small for him. This was of course Rockin’ Roy Williams. He lived nearby and had seen the studio and as it was near enough for him to borrow his kid’s bike to get there, he decided to check the place out.
We spoke about rocking music, Rockabilly, Psychobilly and the fusion with Punk. He booked some time and the next week Frenzy arrived. I was initially booked as the engineer, but as is my way started making suggestions and shaping the sound, so I became co-producer by default, and the band acknowledged this by giving me a production credit on the album.

You often shared a co-producer credit with Williams. How did you work together?

I’m not really sure there was ever a conscious co-production strategy, normally we had both heard the bands before we went into the studio, I always tried to see them live if possible too. Then we would start to run through the tracks and get a feel for the sound. Roy left things like mic selection and miking up to me, and that’s the first point you can start influencing the final overall sound. Then we would both suggest things to the bands and hopefully they would take it on board.

We did have a few differences of opinion on some tracks, pretty early on I wanted to change the way the bass drum sounded in the recordings, making it sharper and more modern. Roy sometimes wanted a more old fashioned deeper sound. In most cases I think we went with what suited the rest of the recording and the modern sound stayed. On the Pharaohs album Blue Egypt you hear on the track “Tomb of the Dead” the “Panic at the Desk” mix, which frankly I hated, it was Roy’s baby even though in the absence of a digital delay, I had to do by copying, cutting a splicing the tape. The straight mix which came out on Zorch Factor One was a far better result in my opinion, but Roy was paying the bills, so the better mix got relegated to the compilation.

Many young bands recorded their debut album with you. Is that something you had to consider when working with them? Was a part of your job devoted to familiarising them with the studio?

Many bands and performers I’ve worked with have been “Studio Virgins” and you need to show them the ropes, but in the main the Psychobilly bands I worked with were professional and understood that my job was to get the best possible performance and result for them. A few who did have studio experience were surprised that I didn’t want to record everything as completely separate parts, but really wanted, at least on the first take, to get an organic sound where everybody sparks off one another. After that, you can over dub and polish the performance, if you need to.

You’ve worked with bands with drastically different sounds, from the Jazzabilly of Get Smart to the heavy Psychobilly of Skitzo or the Quakes. How did you approach each project?

I always listen to the band and try to find that special something that they have to offer. In advertising it’s referred to as the USP or unique selling potential, a good band will have a “Unique Performing Potential”, something that sets them apart from the run of the mill. I look for that and try and enhance it

How did you work with the bands in the studio? Did you suggest covers, changes in the songs’ structures or different arrangements? Can you give some examples?

Quite often the arrangements of a song can be not quite right for recording and need a bit of a tweak to get them right. As an example “The Outer Limits” EP “The Edge of Time”, needed a bit of depth, because as a three piece with bass guitar, the sound was a bit light. I was working with Steve Rispin as my engineer at the time, and we programmed some really fat organ sounds on my Yamaha DX7/CX5 synth.
We also used that for the spacey keyboard sound on The Pharaoh’s track “Tomb of The Dead”. On that track and “Turkey Dance” from the same album, I had an old friend of mine, Mike Abramov, (who is sadly no longer with us), put down some violin. Mike was a Blues and Klezmer man, so Psychobilly was not his thing at all, but he liked the guys in the band, and they liked him so it worked well.


With The Rattlers’ “Take a Ride” sessions, that also led to the mini album “Rock” the band were short a couple of songs and having watched a Bond movie the night before, I suggested they do the James Bond theme. I wrote it down on the track List as “Jimmy Bond goes Psycho (007)” the record company, with a complete lack of imagination, called it “007 theme” on the sleeve. On a technical note, I’ve been asked about the space sound of the bass slap on that track. I had the loan of a great piece of kit from France, called an Infernal Machine from a company called Publison. I just dialled the sound on that ‘til it sounded right. Tin Pan Alley, was adjacent to Soho, which is London’s red light district. While out for lunch the guys saw an adult shop, which was selling shall we call them inflatable companions. They came into the studio and with all of us suggesting lines, they wrote “Blow up Baby”. Later we went back in the studio and I knew a woman who was a former interpreter and by then the international secretary of a trades union. She was quite straight laced, but when I asked her she came down to the studio, translated the words of “Blow up Baby” into the various European languages and coached Mark Carrington of the correct pronunciation. That’s how the Euro-Mix on “Rock” came about.

You produced some of the most “experimental” bands on the scene, like Torment, Frenzy, the Rapids, and the Pharaohs. Those bands weren’t narrow-minded and were not afraid to include modern elements. Was it something you were looking for?

The Rapids
The Rapids

Frenzy were highly experimental and I really liked working with them and Torment another band from the same part of the world, where by the way I now live. Torment’s Simon Brand was very open to discuss the structure of the tracks and how we were going to do them. “The Mystery Men” EP we did was a great project, with the title track and “Rock Strong” being really special, but all the tracks on that are good. It’s a shame we didn’t do a full album. I did one track for a compilation with the Rapids at Village Way and really liked them. By the time we got round to the album “Turning Point”, I was at Tin Pan Alley and was more or less running the place and was also the main client, this meant that I had more time to spend on the projects. This meant I could work with the bands to develop the sounds. A lot of good tracks came out of that studio at that time. The albums by The Pharaohs and The Rapids had really good production values I think, and were out of mainstream Psychobilly. Roy once said to me that he thought that “Turning Point” sounded like it didn’t belong on his label, it should be on a major.

I’ve read in an interview that Coffin Nails weren’t that happy with the sound of their debut album and said that you and Roy Williams tried to make them sound like Demented Are Go.

the Coffin Nails (Paul “Doc” Stewart produced their debut album)
The Coffin Nails

Really! I’d not heard they thought that, about Demented are Go I mean, I knew they weren’t happy with the album, which I’m told is still their biggest seller and of course established them as a band. Nothing could be further from the truth as neither Roy or me tried to make them like any other band. As I said, my approach is to find what makes the performer special and enhance that. We brought out what made them special and that was Dave Ward the singer, after he left them, in my opinion, they were pretty mediocre, but tracks like “Werewolf Bitch” and “Myra Hindley” are belting Psycho tracks. I think the truth may be that they had a set idea of what they wanted to sound like and were unhappy giving any kind of creative control to the producer. However as I said I’m told that the fans liked and bought it. And it’s still being streamed today.

Are there unreleased sessions that you worked on?

Yes there are perhaps one or two tracks that I did just with Paul Roman of the Quakes I think I’ve not seen on anything. I also laid down some tracks with The Ant Hill Mob, who were a Neo-Rockabilly band and I think at that time the only one in the UK with a female singer. Lost Moment Records asked Roy and I to produce them and I think they weren’t happy with the way it was going. I went to Village Way Studios for some thing else, only to find them in the control room with another producer, mixing my tape. I was told that when Roy replaced the guitar solo with whistling, they didn’t like it, which to be fair to Roy, was the wrong decision on their part as it really raised the track. I still have a copy master of the tracks from that session, so they may see the light of day at some point.

You not only produced the Quakes’ debut album, but I believe that you also shot the picture for the sleeve that is famous for its Stray Cats reference.

I alway had a parallel career in photography and decided to do a photo shoot with the Quakes. Paul Roman had the idea to pastiche the Stray Cats cover, and I found the location, the basement of a Safeways car park, which was pretty dank. My ex knew the manager so I organised it, I also shot the image of the three of them in black and white, which has become an icon. I also shot the cover for Skitzo Mania.

the Quakes - picture by Paul “doc” Stewart
The Quakes © Paul “Doc” Stewart

Do you have special memories or anecdotes you’d like to share?

Loads, but we’ll have to change all the names to protect the guilty. I think my favourite experience was at the Klub Foot one night. A kid walked up to me and said, rather aggressively, “You’re Paul “Doc” Stewart and you produced the Rattlers’ “Take a Ride”. I admitted that yes it was me, at which point he grabbed my hand and shook it say “I’ve worn out three copies of that mate, its my favourite record ever”’

Is there a band you would have liked to work with?

Lee Gotcher from the Rapids renamed himself J. C. Lee, and did an interesting album in Japan, I would liked to have worked with him again as a solo project.
Also, I would like to have worked with the BlueCats/ Beltane Fire. Also I did a couple of tracks with the Sidewinders, I thought that they had really great potential and would love to have done an album with them.

They’re all different, but is there an album that you’re particularly proud of?

Where do you start, I enjoyed making them all so it’s a bit like asking which of your kids is your favourite. There’s not one I’m not proud of and believe me there is some mainstream stuff I engineered that I’m embarrassed by, the rockin’ stuff I love it all.

Why did you stop producing bands?

I stopped having it as the main stream of my activity as I hated the way the music scene was going, with far too many bands just producing sampled computerised garbage, rather than learn their craft and play music. But I’ve never really stopped, having done a few mixes for bands over the years. In fact if there are any good psycho bands out there who want to send me a demo, I could be tempted into the studio once again.

Can you tell us more about that Doc-A-Billy project?

Doc-A-Billy - Paul “Doc” Stewart's Psychobilly Years
Doc-A-Billy – Paul “Doc” Stewart’s Psychobilly Years

I’ve talked to a few of the labels I’ve worked for and I have a list of my favourite tracks from over the years. I’ve been putting together some of them for a limited edition vinyl and CD release (Doc-A-Billy – Paul “Doc” Stewart’s Psychobilly Years) and I plan to film some interviews with the bands in question. I’m developing an online documentary channel at the moment and this would be ideal for that.
(so keep your eyes open and check this site. We’ll give you more info as soon as the album hits the shelves).

This interview © Fred “Virgil” Turgis & the Rockabilly Chronicle / Paul “Doc” Stewart.

Paul “Doc” Stewart on discogs.
Paul “Doc” Stewart is a famous photographer with many exhibitions and books under his belt: http://www.paulstewartphoto.co.uk/

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