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old-school psychobilly

The Swamp Dogs (german psychobilly band)

swamp dogs

The Swamp Dogs

The Swamp Dogs was one the best and most original German bands of the second half of the eighties. Sadly, a subtle combination of bad luck and bad timing didn’t allow them to reach the success they deserved.
In 2019, Crazy Love reissued their complete recordings on one superb LP, and, hopefully, a brand new generation will discover this excellent band.

The story of the Swamp Dogs begins in June 1982, when Nockes Kläpper (guitar and vocals) and Roland Heinrich (drums and vocals) form the Bop Cats. Later that year, in October, Christian “Doc Praetorious” Beekes and Thomas Jaroszek join the duo. After a period of rehearsal, the band plays its first gig in February 1983. In April, Atilla Yüncüoglu plays harmonica with the band on stage and secretly hopes to join them on piano. Around the same time, Nockes leaves the band to fully concentrate on his apprenticeship. Michael Schleifer, a friend of Thomas, integrates the line-up on bass guitar, and the Bop Cats become the Catweazles (to avoid confusion with another band called the Bop Cats). He’ll stay with the band only for a short spell leaving the combo after a couple of weeks, followed in October by Thomas.
January 1984. Roland starts to practice with a guitar and a cello leaving the drums to Attila (after all, a piano was a bit too expensive). The name changes once again to the Percolators, and they begin to add Psychobilly to their set-list. Still not able to buy one (he was 15 at the time), Heinrich either plays electric bass or borrows the slap bass of Marcel Strom of the R.A.T.S.
In February 1985, Attila leaves the combo to form his own band with his cousin Vural on guitar, Marcel Strom on bass, and Carsten Riemath on vocals. Jochen Vaupel replaces him.
By April 1985, things finally move fast. Roland buys a double bass, and Hagman (ex Crisis) joins the trio, giving birth to the Swamp Dogs. The line-up lasts until the end of the year when Jochen and Hagman leave. January sees the return of Attila, and later that year, Stefan Schusters climbs aboard as second singer and washboard player. The line-up is now Roland Heinrich (double bass and vocals), Stefan Schusters (vocals and washboard), Christian “Doc Praetorious” (guitar), and Attila (drums). More shows follow.

swamp dogsIn October, they record four songs (Roland and Stefan sing two songs each). The recordings were supposedly lost but reappeared when Crazy Love released the excellent Teenage Werewolf L.P. Thanks to a band’s friend, they open for Batmobile, Long Tall Texans, and Krewmen.
The year 1987 begins with Stefan leaving the band. They envisage the possibility to add a second guitar player but ultimately decide to keep on as a trio. By the time Roland’s taste has evolved, moving toward Garage bands like the Vibes, The Sting Rays, The Escalators, and the Medway scene.
The Swamp Dogs return to the studio in February to start working on an L.P. The recordings come to Peter Wahler’s ears, and the band releases its debut single (Bad Moon Rising/Mind & Music) in August. In the meantime, they share the bill with the Meteors, Les Wampas, and the Krewmen.
The single sell well enough to convince Rundell to record an album, thus in December 1987, they enter the studio. Being booked to open for the Krewmen during their German tour of February 1988, The Swamp Dogs hope to release their album for this date. Sadly not only is the tour postponed, but the record is not ready. Despite some live activities, the months pass, and the album is still not released—worst, Christian announces that he leaves the band.
Roland organizes a Summer Festival in Essen, which will be Christian’s farewell gig. The festival featuring the Scannerz and Cruisin’ is an absolute disaster, especially for Roland, the promoter. Not only is the attendance poor, but due to some vandalization, Roland is faced with a lawsuit. This marks the end of the Swamp Dogs.
Finally, one year after the recording sessions, My True Story is released on Rundell. But at the time, not very pleased by the violence one could find in gigs and the evolution of the Psychobilly genre toward Metal, Roland has returned to a more roots-oriented style of music, playing blues and hillbilly. He forms the Little Green Men with Attila and his cousin Vural. Two songs are recorded and appear on Listen To The Ape Call next to The Catfish trio, Clear Rats, Cruisin, and Rockabilly Mafia. The compilation also includes one track by the swamp Dogs.
Seeing that the band is still active, even if it’s under another name, Rundell offers them to record six songs for a split release with Ray Anthony and the Spingbusters, as long as they return to their old name.
In February, they record six songs, and the album is scheduled to be released in May. The band book shows to coincide with it, but once again, bad luck strikes, and the album is not released in time (it will not see the light of the day until June 1990!) It’s too late for the band, and by December 1989, the Swamp Dogs/Little Green Men have called it quit.
Roland Heinrich later formed the Crackerjacks with Andy Bungert (R.A.T.S) on drums and Uwe Grefrath. Attila joined Cruisin with his brother Aziz. Sadly Christian passed away in 2016.

Sources
Teenage Werewolf liner notes by Ernst Fröhlich
Interview with the Swamp Dogs in Transsylvanian News

swamp dogs

swamp dogs

swamp dogs swamp dogs swamp dogs swamp dogs

Swampy's (the)

Swampy’s (the) – Come Back To The Swamp

Kix4U [1989]
Pretty in Pink – Rockhouse – Home Sweet Home – Tainted Love  – Fly Story – Cinderella – Iron Man  – Come Back to the Swamp – Love Me – Bug Attack – You Drink Too Much – Tear It Up 

The Swampy’s recorded the follow-up to their debut ep in September 1988. It was first self-released by the band, then Kix4U licensed it, giving it a better distribution.
On many aspects, Come Back to the Swamp is a more accomplished effort than Psycho Swamp. It is better produced, better recorded, better played, and better sung with many outstanding originals, including one instrumental (Bug Attack.)
You have to be a very tight band to play that brand of fast Psychobilly, and the Swampy’s, at the time of these recordings, were on top of their form. The double-bass is just insane. Jo, their double-bass player/singer, also progressed in terms of singing. His voice shows more subtleties ranging from the threatening voice to a more neo-Rockabilly vocal.
The best way to hear the band’s evolution is to compare the two versions of Tainted Love. Needless to say that the second one is far better and is a highlight of the Psychobilly genre.


Swampy’s (the) – Psycho Swamp

Self-released [1988]
Domino – Psycho Swamp – Tainted Love – The Coffin Maker

Coming from Belgium, the Swampy’s, recorded Psycho Swamp their debut mini-album in 1987. It has the defaults and the qualities of the youth. Despite a powerful slap bass, the Swampy’s are not what you could describe as accomplished musicians, and some arrangements are a bit loose. On the other hand, it’s joyful, full of vitality, exuberant, wild, raw, and primitive. Everything that makes you buy a psychobilly album. Don’t you agree with me?
Two of the songs are originals. If their instrumental is average, the Coffin Maker is excellent. The other two songs are covers. The first one is a hardly recognizable version of Roy Orbison’s Domino with a total change of melody. The second one is Gloria Jones’ Tainted Love, which takes things where Dave Philips and the Hot Rod Gang left them and add a massive dose of craziness.
On a side note, if there’s an award for the ugliest Psychobilly cover, the Swampy’s would be a strong contender.

The Radioactive Kid

Psycho Tendencies

Psycho Tendencies – Big Foot Stomp

Get Stomped Records [2020]
Bigfoot Stomp / Friday Night / Discos are on fire / Alone in the moon

Psycho Tendencies is a Spanish Psychobilly band, named I suppose from the same name’s Raucous compilation. They previously released one studio album and one live recording on cassette. Yes, you read it well, these guys do it the old-school way. The same goes for the music you’ll find on this ep, published by the newly created Get Stomped Records from Germany (Martin Grobe from the Minestompers, see below, is behind the label) and limited to 300 copies.
Their singer sings with a hoarse voice that works perfectly well with the tight rhythm section and the clean guitar sound. Kudos to Ivan, their guitar player, who produces a monumental amount of work whether to add meat on the rhythm with intricate patterns or with his fast solos.
The A-side is a bit more Psychobilly and wild, while the B-side shows some hint of neo-Rockabilly. Both are excellent.
Had it been released in the late 80s, my Psychobilly buddies and I would have made an anthem of Friday Night!
The cover designed by King Rat is splendid.

https://psychotendencies.bandcamp.com/

The Radioactive Kid

Pharaohs (the)

Pharaohs (the) – Vigilante

pharaohs vigilante

Nervous Records – 12 NEP 005 [1987]
Vigilante – Cleopatra – Your On Your Own – Pharaohs To Cowboys

With Vigilante, their second release, the Pharaohs switched from double-bass to electric bass, with Lee Brown in place of Jeff Horsey. Brown later joined the Meteors to play bass on some of their very best albums.
Apart from that, nothing really changed since their debut album. Glenn Daeche is still one hell of a songwriter, providing tunes that are both melodic and rocking at the same time. Furthermore, the production and the arrangements are outstanding too. A song like Cleopatra could easily have reached an audience beyond the rocking scene. Pharaohs to Cowboys features harmony vocals and adds a touch of hillbilly to the sound of the band.
Everything here is perfect, except for the ugly cover, designed by Kevin Haynes, drummer of Torment.

The Radioactive Kid

Pharaohs (the) – Blue Egypt

pharaohs blue egypt

Nervous Records NERD020 [1986]
Crazy Love Records ‎– CLCD 6486 [2001]

Wild Thing – Tomb Of The Dead  Keep On Running  Radar Love – Wipe  Dead To The World  Theme From Cairo  Down The Line  Killed Love  Blue Egypt  Drinkin’  Never Coming Back – Smell of Cop* – Crazy and Wild* – Turkey Dance* (*CD only)

The Pharaohs were a Psychobilly band with strong rockabilly roots. After a show at the Klub Foot, Roy Williams of Nervous records proposed them a record deal, and the result was Blue Egypt. The line up on this album is Glenn Daeche (vocals, rhythm guitar), Ben Evans (lead guitar), Jeff Horsey (double bass), and Nick Becker [drums.)

Blue Egypt opens with a cover of The Troggs’ “Wild Thing.” It’s not bad, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the title, especially if you compare it to the Meteors’ version. Things get better with the second song. Written by Daeche, it’s a very original tune with changes of paces, organ, and a bizarre atmosphere. “Keep on Running” is a cowbell and drum fest and has a very pop feel.

They play Golden earing’s “Radar Love” at a frantic pace and gives it a mean approach that the original (and the Restless cover) doesn’t have. “Wipe Off” is a simple but highly effective instrumental. “Dead to the World” is a melodic Psychobilly tune that demonstrates what a great songwriter Glenn Daeche is. “Theme from Cairo,” the second instrumental of the album, brilliantly blends surf with psychobilly and a touch of spaghetti western too. It evolves into a crazy version of Orbison’s Down the Line. Another killer track by Daeche, the slap-bass propelled Killed Love, shows how blurry could the difference between neo-rockabilly and psychobilly be in the mid ’80s.

But the best is yet to come with the highly original Blue Egypt, both melodic and powerful. From the start, the Pharaohs had more ideas than the usual horror and ghouls cliches, and their songs were different than just fast-paced rockabilly tunes. Blue Egypt encompasses all that. “Drinkin’” has a laid back feel, kinda jazzy with piano and acoustic guitar. The original album ends with the rocking “Never Coming Back.”

The cd version features three bonus tracks, including Crazy and Wild a little gem, taken from Zoch Factor One and Three as well as Psycho Attack Over Europe.  

The Radioactive Kid

Psyclocks (the)

psyclocksPsyclocks (the) – Dont Think, Feeeel​!​!​!​!

Killjoy Records – Kill 007 [2015]
Radioactive Baby – Everybody Stomping – Zombie Walk – That’s Alright

The Psyclocks are a psychobilly trio from Japan. They released their debut album in 2011 and this fine little ep in 2015 on Killjoy records.
They can be seen as the Japanese answer to Demented are Go, their singer having the same kind of gravely voice than Sparky. Musically the band is very good with clean guitar, a powerful slap bass to the fore and tight arrangements.
Radioactive Baby is pure psychobilly. Everybody Stomping has a rockabilly vibe in it. Zombie Walk is excellent and alternates slow and fast parts with a superb and very well recorded double bass.
The cover of Mickie Most’s That’s Allright concludes the ep on high note. They keep the spirit of the song but turn it into something completely insane, sounding like Sparky backed by the Meteors.
Great stuff. If you like classic Psychobilly, you’ll love it. It’s guaranted to make you stomp all night long.

The Radioactive Kid

The Krewmen


The Krewmen – Ramblin’ / I’m Gonna Get It

the krewmen

Lost Moment LM024
The Krewmen were one of the best band to emerge from the british rockabilly scene of the mid-eighties along with Red Hot’n’Blue, The Riverside Trio and The Blue Rhythm Boys to name but a few. The band was formed by bassist Tony McMillan in 1982, first as a rockabilly combo. After a few changes, the Krewmen found its best line-up with : Tony McMillan on bass, Jimmy Faye on drums and a young Carl Sonny Leyland on guitar, harmonica, piano and vocals. Together they pushed the band toward a more bluesy sound. Ramblin’ is a great “delta-blues meets Chicago blues” stuff. The electricity is here but you still have a big country flavour. This tune shows what a great slide guitarist is Carl Leyland, too bad he doesn’t play it anymore. The b-side, “I’m gonna get it” is a Jazz Gillum song. Listening to this version shows that the Krewmen were more than a “cover band”. They play this song and make it their own. The song, the voice and the harp are clearly bluesy, but the way McMillan slaps his bass and the scorchy guitar look toward rockabilly. Let’s call it rockabilly blues.The band recorded an EP and this single with this line-up, both on lost moment. Then they disbanded and soon after Tony McMillan came back, this time on guitar, with a new version of the Krewmen. Carl Leyland and Judge Faye were no longer here and the sound of the day was “modern rockabilly” to soon evolve into psychobilly. Carl Leyland later moved to the USA and became the famous piano player we know and Fahy joined Get Smart . The “original” Krewmen were an amazing band and it’s really sad they didn’t last long enough to release a full length album but Lost Moment re-released this legendary recordings on a CD called “Klassic Tracks From 1985!” (LMCD054) and you can find some other Krewmen recordings on Carl Sonny Leyland’s album “I Like Boogie Woogie” (On The Hill OTHRCD 001). Look for them, they definititely worth it.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Early Krewmen with Carl Sonny Leyland
Early Krewmen with Carl Sonny Leyland
The Krewmen - Into the Tomb
The Krewmen – Into the Tomb

The Krewmen – Into the Tomb

Lost Moment Records ‎– LMLP 014 [1987]
Let Loose – Should I Stay or Go – Devil’s Daughter – Public Enemy Number One – Hava Nagila – Curse of the Pharaohs – Solid Gold Easy Action – Hostage – I’m Not Dead – Swamp Club Ball

Third and last release with the classic Psychobilly line-up of the Krewmen (Tony Mc Millan on guitar, Mark Cole on vocals, Dominic Parr on drums and Jason Thornton on double bass).
The sound hardens a bit compared to the Adventure and Sweet Dreams with a fast paced cover of the Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go (a song that was heavily covered by Psychobilly bands at one point). Other covers are T-Rex Solid Gold Action and a Dick Dale inspired version of the traditionnal Hava Naguila.
All in all it’s a solid album, though maybe a little less essential than the first two albums.


The Krewmen - Plague of the dead
The Krewmen – Plague of the dead

The Krewmen – Plague of the Dead

Lost Moment [1988] – Reissue Part Records – PART-CD 6114-001 [2014]
Plague of the Dead – I’m Not Your Stepping Stone – Scream of the Banshees – Jeanie Jeanie Jeanie – What’s Wrong – I Can’t Stop – Take a Little More – The Clock – Legend of the Piper – Do You Wanna Touch – Beat the Devil – My Generation

One can distinct three main periods in the history of the Krewmen. The first one was the Rockabilly-blues years that saw the release of two singles with Carl Sonny Leyland. Next they changed their style to psychobilly with Mark Cole on vocals and the recordings of three classic psychobilly albums (the Adventure of, Sweet Dreams and Into the Tomb). Cole eventually left in 1987 and Tony McMillan, then guitar player took over the vocal duties and came with a new line-up including Steve Piper on drums and a Mark Burke.
The sound changed with the line-up too, getting harder and including different elements than Psychobilly and Rockabilly like metal, punk rock, glam rock. “Plague Of The Dead” combines all those influences. The choice of the covers reveals this orientation and McMillan’s varied tastes. From Eddie Cochran’s Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie to Gary Glitter’s Do You Wanna Touch via The Who’s My Generation and Steppin’ Stone (Paul Revere, The Monkees but also covered by The Sex Pistols). Tony quotes classic rockers like Chuck Berry and Elvis for influence but he also adds Alice Cooper, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimmi Hendrix and Sex Pistols to the list.
It wasn’t easy to follow Cole and their first three albums, but McMillan succeeds to renew the band and “Plague Of The Dead” contains some very good moments like “Legend Of The Piper”, “Take A Little More” and the previously mentioned covers. It’s  also quite refreshing to see a band that doesn’t care about boundaries.
So once again it’s agood job from Part Record to reissue this album (with interesting booklet that contains press clips). Hopefully they’ll release the rest of the band’s discography in the near future. One can only regret the label didn’t include the non-album b-sides released at the same time as bonus.


The Krewmen - Power
The Krewmen – Power

The Krewmen – Power

Lost Moment LMLP 021 [1990]
Devils Lair – Miranda – Undead – The Rats – Anymore – Stone – Get Lost – 2 Souls – Knight Moves – Back To The Ball

Little by little, fans of the Krewmen saw them adding more and more hard core elements to their music and slowly drop the rockabilly idiom out of their sound. This musical position culminates with Power, which is plain hard-roce with heavy and distorted guitars, hard pounding drums with breaks, raspy voice and powerful slap bass. Some elements are even strictly heavy metal / hard rock with tatseless guitar like Knight Moves.
It’s still very well produced and play and features ecellent tunes like Back to the Ball a follow up to Swamp Club Ball from Into the Tomb, but far from the traditionnal psychobilly sound of the three albums released with Mark Cole.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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