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psychobilly

Meteors (the)

Meteors (the) – Psychobilly Revolution

psychobilly revolution

Raucous Records RAUC079 [1999]
Intro – The Crazed – Hell Ain’t Hot Enough For Me – Deep Dark Jungle – Blue Sunshine – Little Red Riding Hood – Night Of The Werewolf – Wild Thing – Chainsaw Boogie – Corpse Grinder – Maniac Rockers from Hell – These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ – Insane – Rawhide – Mutant Rock

Recorded live in the late ’90s St Petersburg’s Spartak Club, Russia, this album is very representative of the sound of the band at the time.
Too bad that the recording quality is not top-notch and that Fenech’s voice is a bit buried in the mix because the band (Shaun Berry on bass and Wolfgang Hordemann on drums) is in fine form.
The setlist presents no big surprise and mixes classics of the band (Crazed, Blue Sunshine, Mutant Rock…) with more recently released stuff at the time of the release (Hell Ain’t Hot Enough For Me…)
This live album remains good but not essential. For example, Welcome to the Wrecking Pit has more or less the same setlist but with a better sound.


Meteors (the) – Live, Leary and Fucking Loud!

meteors-live-leary-fucking-loud

Dojo Limited [1995]
Wipe Out – Maniac Rockers From Hell – Lonesome Train – I Ain’t Ready – Ain’t Gonna Bring Me Down – Sick Things – When A Stranger Calls – Sweet Love On My Mind – Mutant Rock – Rhythm Of The Bell – Lil’ Red Riding Hood – Long Blond Hair – Rock Bop – Rattlesnakin Daddy – Blue Sunshine – These Boots Are Made For Walking – Wild Thing – I Go To Bed With The Undead – Wreckin’ Crew – Meet Me At The Morgue – Spinebender

Live, Leary and Fucking Loud is a live album gathering songs taken from the Meteors’ first three live albums (Live, Horrible Music, For Horrible People, By This Horror-Ble Band and Live Style of the Sick and Shameless.) It gives a good overview of the live sound of the band during their first decade after the original line-up split. Also present are two live renditions of Spinebender and Meet Me At the Morgue. They make a very welcome bonus since both songs, taken from The Mutant Monkey and the Surfer from Zorch, never appeared on any live album before. The line-up on these songs is probably the mid-’90s line-up (Shaun Berry on bass and Wolfgang Hordemann on drums.)


Meteors (the) – International Wreckers – Live 4

international wreckers

Sonovabitch Records ROTT 90062 [1992]
Mutant Rock – Dateless Nights – Swamp Thing – Corpse Grinder – Alligator Man – Death Dance – Wild Thing – Bertha Lou – Get off of My Cloud – Electro II – Wrecking Crew – Rhythm of the Bell – Psycho Cat – Get off of My Cloud – Vibrate – The Crazed – Mind over Matter – These Boots Are Made for Walking

Unlike the previous live recordings released officially by the band, International Wreckers doesn’t present a complete show but a collection of songs recorded in various countries (France, Germany, UK, Holland) and at various venues. It’s a good idea and the occasion to include rarer material that appear on a live album for the first time like Swamp Thing (that is made for the stage), Alligator Man, Dateless Nite, Psycho Kat, Death Dance, Electro II next to the band’s stage favourites like Mutant Rock, These Boots Are Made Walking, Wrecking Crew or Rhythm Of the Bell featured here in a wild version. An essential addition to your collection.


Meteors (the) – Madman Roll

The Meteors Madman Roll

Sonovabitch ROTT90021 [1991]
Madman Roll  Queen of the Slug People  Bertha Lou – Theme from The Hypnotist  You Can’t Touch Me  Paint It Black  You’re Mine  A Very Handy Man (Indeed) – Running ‘Round – Simply Ravishing

Released in 1991, Madman Roll opened a new chapter in the band’s history. The sound slightly changes, don’t worry, there’s no big departure, but it’s darker and even more threatening than ever. The result is one of their very best albums (and I pity those who stopped listening to the Meteors after In Heaven because they really miss something.)
The title track, which opens the album, sets the new tendency. Fenech sings like he’s possessed while Lee Brown and Mark Howe lay a solid groove for his intricated layers of guitar. Maybe it’s because that’s the first line-up I saw on stage, but I really like the Fenech-Brown-Howe partnership. Queen of the Slug People begins with a superb drums intro and evolves into a B-movie-themed masterpiece. Next is a cover of Dorsey Burnette’s Bertha Lou, a demonstration of pure Rockabilly mayhem. Theme From The Hypnotist is the first instrumental of the album. It takes time to expose the theme, with Fenech creating sound and texture with various guitars and then exploding in the middle. The first side closes with You Can’t Touch Me, a slow-paced tune with a Diddley beat that pursues the theme developed in songs like I Don’t Worry About It.

The B-side opens with a dark cover of the Rolling Stones’s Paint It Black. The Meteors have a unique talent for covering a song, keeping its skeleton and, at the same time, turning it into a Meteors song. You’re Mine is a love song, a Meteors love song that sounds like a frantic and modern version of the Johnny Burnette Trio.
A Very Handy Man is the album’s masterpiece (on one album that only counts excellent songs). Written about Ed Gein, whose picture is on the album’s cover, it demonstrates, if needed, that Paul Fenech is ten million miles ahead of any other psychobilly bands in songwriting. The slide guitar reinforces the dark and disturbing mood of the song, leaving the listener with an uneasy feeling.
Running Around is a shot of Rock’n’Roll straight to your veins. Each note of that song screams, “PLAY LOUD!”.
This magnificent album closes with Simply Ravishing, a groovy instrumental and one of the band’s very best. I could praise once again Fenech’s guitar(s), but Brown’s bass part is also equally impressive.

The Meteors career is made of excellent albums and masterpieces. Madman Roll falls, without a doubt, in that second category.

Reissued on vinyl and cd in 2022. Buy it here.


Meteors (the)  – The Mutant Monkey and the Surfers from Zorch

Anagram – CDMPSYCHO12 [1988]
Swamp Thing / Electro II / The Revenge / Sidewalk Psycho / I’m Invisible Man / She’s My Baby Again / Surfin’ On The Planet Zorch / Spine Bender / Dance Crazy Baby / Rawhide / Oxygen Dog / Yellow Zone / Meet Me At The Morgue / Little Red Riding Hood

Released in 1988 and featuring new bassist Lee “Red” Brown (ex Pharaohs) and Coffin Nails drummer Toby Griffin, the Mutant Monkey is a bit disappointing. It’s not bad (I don’t believe the Meteors ever released anything bad) it just lacks of a little something that made of Don’t Touch The Bang Bang Fruit a killer release. It contains its usual dose of solid Fenech’s originals (Surfing On Planet Zorch, Spine Bender, Swamp Thing, Meet Me At The Morgue) but some songs are just good (which is for a Meteors album disappointing) and the sound is uneven compared once again to Bang Bang Fruit that hardly contained a weak number and was perfectly produced. The cd version contains one bonus song, a cover of Lil’ Red Riding Hood.


Meteors (the) – Don’t Touch the Bang Bang Fruit

meteors don't touch the bang bang fruit

Anagram – CDMPSYCHO38 [1987]
Go Buddy Go – Midnight People – Low Livin’ Daddy – Your Worst Nightmare – Wildkat Ways / Repo Man – Don’t Touch The Bang Bang Fruit – Crack Me Up – Shakey Snakey – Psycho Kat – Let’s Go – Revenge Of El Trio Los Bastardos – Go Buddy Go (Wonkey Donkey Mix) – Don’t Touch The Bang Bang Fruit (Manky Monkey Mix) – Dateless Nights – Corpse Grinder

After the success of “Sewertime Blues” in 1986 (it reached #9 in the indie charts) Fenech came back the following year with a new line-up consisting of ex-Coffin Nails Toby Griffin on drums and Arms Malone on bass (if you look closely to the back cover of the reissue, you’ll see written in small characters “Arms Malone is Austin Stone”), and a new platter called “Don’t Touch The Bang Bang Fruit” one of their best and most diverse album to date.
It starts with a total appropriation of The Stranglers “Go Buddy Go”, takes a detour by the hillbilly inspired “Low Livin’ Daddy” with harmonica and ends with the Hank Marvin meets Ennio Morricone instrumental “Revenge Of El Trio Los Bastardos”. In between, Fenech, contrary to many followers, remembered the rockabilly roots of psychobilly with a cover of Jimmy Lee Maslon’s“Wildkat Ways” already sung by Nigel Lewis in the early days of the band and the frantic boogie “You Crack Me Up” previously heard on Live 1.
The production is perfect, full of good ideas to set the ambiance, slide guitar, cow bell and notice the fine use of the acoustic rhythm guitar on “Let’s go” and “Revenge…”. The listener goes from the haunting “Your Worst Nightmare” to the funny title track via the threatening “Repo Man” and the bluesy “Midnight People”.
This reissue contains the 12” mixes of “Bang Bang Fruit” and “Go Buddy Go”, which for some obscure reasons weren’t on the Anagram Single Collection, and two B-sides : a fantastic cover of “Dateless Night” and a Fenech’s own good enough to be a A-side called “Corpse Grinder”.
By 1987, despite the massive arrival of new bands, the Meteors were still the Kings of Psychobilly.


Meteors (the) – Sewertime Blues

Meteors sewertime blues

Anagram – CDMPSYCHO37 [1986]
Ain’t Taking A Chance / So Sad / Here’s Johnny / Mind Over Matter / Acid And Psyam / Sewertime Blues / Return Of The Ethel Merman / Deep Dark Jungle / Never Get Away / I Bury The Living / Vibrate / Surf City / The Edge

Sewertime Blues marks the beginning of the fruitful collaboration between the psychobilly combo and Anagram/Cherry Red. The Meteors incarnation of 1986 was newcomer Austin Stone on bass and Ian “Spider” Cubitt who previously drummed on Stampede and Monkey’s Breath.
Fenech proves once again that he has a strong vision and delivers another set of solid originals completed by well selected covers (Bob Luman’s Deep Dark Jungle, Mac Self’s Vibrate and Jan & Dean’s Surf City). It’s also another proof of Fenech’s skills on guitar. One listen to his sharp solos on So Sad and Here’s Johnny to name but two shows how he has incorporated elements of rockabilly merged with surf to create his “monster”. Equally great is the instrumental “Return Of Ethel Merman” (don’t know how they got the idea for the name). Sewertime Blues reinforced the band status as the undisputed leader of the scene and made, for good reasons, a decent stint in the indie charts.


Meteors (the) – Night Of the Werewolf

meteors night of the werewolf

Raucous Records RAUCD 039 [1987]
X-Men Boogie ~ Rawhide ~ Maniac ~ Rock House ~ I’m Just a Dog ~ Stampede ~ Deep Dark Jungle ~ Hills Have Eyes ~ Kit Boy ~ Domino ~ Shout So Loud ~ Night of the Werewolf ~ Graveyard Stomp ~ These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ~ It’s All Over Now.

Previously released on a semi-official vinyl bootleg in the 80’s, Night Of The Werewolf has been reissued officially by Raucous in 2007. Though there’s no indication of dates, place or line-up, one can affirm by looking at the track listing that it has been recorded sometime around 1985 and the sound is quite similar to Live II released at the same period. It’s heavy and compact with Fenech’s voice full of anger. They rip through the first part of the set at a pace that would make the Ramones turn red in envy. Next to the band classics you’ll find many live versions of lesser played songs of the Stampede/Monkey’s Breath albums only available here, which is a reason good enough to buy it.


Meteors (the) – John Peel Sessions (1983-1985)

meteors peel sessions

Raucous Records – RAUC 044
Ain’t Gonna Bring Me Down – You Crack Me Up – Lonesome Train – Long Blond Hair – Stampede – Deep Dark Jungle – Surf City – I’m Just A Dog – Torture – Meat Is Meat – Bertha Lou – Maniac

Twelve tracks recorded during three sessions for John Peel in 1983 (tracks 1-4 with Rick Ross on bass and Matthew Fraser on drums), 1984 (tracks 5-8 still with Rick Ross on bass and Ian Cubitt on drums and Steve Andrews on backing Vocals) and 1985 (tracks 9-12 with Nev Hunt on bass and Ian Cubitt on drums). These recordings totally differ from the album versions, some are even better. Sadly the cd has been deleted from the catalog I guess but maybe you can find a second hand copy on the net.


Meteors (the) – Wreckin’ Crew

meteors wreckin crew

I.D. Records ‎– NOSE 1
Insane – I Ain’t Ready – Johnny Remember Me – I Don’t Worry About It – Axe Attack – Zombie Noise – Rattle Snakin’ Daddy -When A Stranger Calls – Phantom Of The Opera – Blue Sunshine – Wreckin’ Crew – Sick Things – Wild Thing – Get Off My Cloud – Mutant Rock – Hills Have Eyes – Fear Of The Dark – Scream Of The Mutants

When Nigel Lewis left the Meteors in 1982, one could fear that the band wouldn’t survive to the loss of one of its founder member. But Paul Fenech, still with Woodie Taylor on drums, far from being discouraged quickly recruited a new bass player, Mick White, switching from double bass to electric bass in the process and a guest singer, Russel Jones. White re-recorded the bass parts on some previously recorded songs by Lewis and they released Mutant Rock b/w Hills Have Eyes. This single and the Johnny Remember ep are included here as bonus. When the band went to the studio to record their second album, Taylor had already left to be replaced by Steve Meadham.
Without Lewis, the band sounded less garage/psychedelic and more rockin’. The developped what would become the psychobilly sound of the Meteors for the next decades and Wreckin’ Crew contains instant classics like Blue Sunshine, Wreckin’ Crew, I Ain’t Ready, I Don’t Worry About It and some still remains in the band’s setlist today . White’s contributation to the album didn’t limit to the bass duties as he penned two songs fort the album (Phantom of the Opera and Axe Attack) and two more that are included as bonus (Fear Of the Dark and Scream of the Mutants). All four of them are sung by Jones and if they don’t reach Fenech orLewis standards they remain quite enjoyable (especially Phantom of the Opera). Wreckin’ Crew also includes three covers The Troggs’ Wild Thing, a new version of Get Off My Cloud (that the band had already recorded for In Heaven) and the spooky Johnny Remember Me that even found its place in the UK pop charts.
In the end, Wreckin’ Crew proved to be as important as In Heaven for the band and the whole Psychobilly scene. And it was just the begining…


The Meteors – Mutant Rock

meteors mutant rock

WXYZ Records – ABCD 5 [1982]
Mutant Rock – Hills Have Eyes

In March 1982, Paul Fenech, Nigel Lewis and Woody Taylor went to Alvic Studios to record what should have been the second Meteors album. Here they recorded Blue Sunshine, Just the Three Of Us, Mutant Rock, The Hills Have Eyes (written and sung by Fenech), Another Half Hour Till Sunrise, Walter Mitty Blues, Dog Eat Robot and Island Of Lost Souls (written and sung by Lewis). Two instrumentals, Napoleon Solo and Jupiter Stroll, rounded the set.
Sadly, Fenech and Lewis parted ways shortly after, before the album was released (though most of the songs resurfaced on the coimpilation album Teenagers from Outer Space a couple of years later). Fenech decided to pursue the band with Taylor and kept the name and the songs he recorded during that session. Lewis did the same, and two songs ended on the fantastic Tall Boys’ single: Island Of Lost Souls / Another Half Hour Till Sunrise.
Spud, from the band Martian Dance, played with Fenech and Taylor for a while before a permanent bass player, namely Mick White, was recruited. A second singer, Russell Jones, reinforced the line-up.
Two songs from the Alvic sessions were chosen to make the first post-Lewis single: Mutant Rock and Hills Have Eyes with Mick White re-recording Lewis’ bass part and Jones adding some backing vocals.
Mutant Rock is a pure moment of Psychobilly genius, with sound effects and a discordant piano break that launches the wild guitar solo. Hills Have Eyes is slower but way more threatening, as the psychopaths from the movie of the same name.
It took only two songs to Fenech to demonstrate that the Meteors were far from finished. And though this line-up didn’t last long (Woody Taylor left around July 1982), it was clear that, with Fenech at the helm, they were launching a new era of creativity.


The Meteors – Radioactive Kid

meteors radioactive

Chiswick Records – CHIS 147 [1981]
Radioactive Kid / Graveyard Stomp

In April 1981, less than three months after the Meteor Madness session, the Meteors were back in the studio. The band was evolving fast, and the single marked another step in their evolution. Lewis’ Radioactive Kid is a punk-garage number that takes no prisoners. On the flip, Fenech’s Graveyard Stomp begins with an eerie and sinister introduction. Then after a quick call from Robertson on the snare, the song erupts into a manic Rockabilly number.
Like the previous EP, it was recorded by Adam Skeaping, who also worked in the classical music field. His knowledge of recording live music probably helped to capture the energy of the band in the studio.


Meteors (the) – Meteor Madness

meteor madness

Ace – SW 65 [1981]
Voodoo Rhythm – Maniac Rockers From Hell / My Daddy Is A Vampire – You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down

Very few bands or artists can brag about having created a style. Elvis Presley could, and the Meteors can. What the original trio of Paul Fenech (guitar and vocals), Nigel Lewis (double bass and vocals), and Mark Robertson (drums) achieved is to gather the influence of three individualities and launch a monster over the world: Psychobilly.
Before forming the Meteors, Lewis and Fenech played in the Rockabilly band Raw Deal with Pat Panioty (Deltas) and Terry Earl (Flying Saucers). But they wanted more, which eventually led the band to split. They teamed with Mark Robertson and formed the Meteors named after Junior Thompson’s band (who also sang Raw Deal.) The trio recorded a batch of Rockabilly tracks for Alligator records. Still, the sparkle that ignited the whole Psychobilly movement can be dated with the release of this four-track EP.
The EP kicks off with the Cozy Powell-inspired precise yet raw drumbeat of Robertson on Voodoo Rhythm, quickly followed by a hypnotic bass and guitar and Fenech’s hiccuping vocals. The second Fenech’s original is Maniac Rockers From Hell, a fast-paced rockabilly number sung with rage by Fenech.
The B-side features two Lewis’ self-penned numbers that he also sings. His toneless and cavernous voice makes the perfect contrast with Fenech’s one. On My Daddy Is A Vampire, Robertson once again sets the pace while Lewis sings the sad story of his family while Fenech keeps the Rockabilly element throughout. The following song is You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down. Imagine a country tune played by a garage band with a mean Rockabilly guitar.


Meteors (the) – The Lost Album

meteors lost album

Raucous Records – RaucCD144 [2004]
I Don’t Worry About It – Your Wildkat Ways – Maniac – You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down – Ain’t Takin’ A Chance – Psycho For Your Love – The Room – Love Me – Red Headed Woman – Long Blond Hair – Haunt You Baby Rock – Your Baby Blue Eyes – Honey Roll – Domino – Drowning All My Sorrows – Crazy Crazy Lovin’

Psychobilly fans and radioactive kids knew the existence of this recordings for years. Those were demos paid by EMI in 1980, when the young Meteors were looking for a contract, before Island got the deal. This is the original line-up (Fenech/Lewis/Robertson) halfway in their mutation from rockabilly to psychobilly. This ain’t no longer the clean sound one can hear on the “Alligator recordings” (My Baby Loves Me, Go Away, Crazy Love) but not yet the sound of “Meteor Madness” or “In Heaven”. Songs like Long Blonde Hair, Domino and Red Headed Woman are true (and wild) rockabillies while you can hear the seeds of psychobilly on Meteors’ songs like Psycho For Your Love, The Room and You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down. It’s very interesting to compare this demos with the definitive version recorded on later albums and ep’s. The drums are lighter here for example, but you know rockabilly will never be the same after that. “Your Wildkat Ways” and “Crazy Crazy Lovin’” sung by Lewis will resurface later on albums but this time sung by Fenech. This album gives you a chance to see what psychobilly is. Just compare Johnny Burnette’s “Sweet Love On my Mind” on these demos to the version the band plays on “Monkey’s Breath” to understand. A great album, indeed, you even have a blues (Honey Roll). So, as you – clever reader – have already understood, this is essential listening. More than music, history.

© Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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/

Archie

Archie – Listen to What Archie Sez

Archie

Kix4U 4U2224 [1986]
Listen To What Archie Sez – Eat The Worm – The Creep  Steelcap Stomp – Radar Love  The Hottest Rod  Casting My Spell  In Search Of The Lost Prairie

Born out of the ashes of Honey Hush, Archie released a short yet powerful album in 1986 in a more modern vein. This is a total success on every level. The self-penned songs are excellent and original, each sounding different from the previous one. The two covers – Golden Earring’s Radar Love and a version of Castin’ My Spell clearly inspired by the Pirates – are very well-chosen. The production is top-notch, and the band’s musicianship allows them to go where they want to go. The drummer is one of the keys to their sound. He participates in creating the originality of the tunes with breaks, rolls on tom-tom etc. 
Moreover, there’s no room for weak songs with only eight tracks on this album.
With Listen to What Archie Sez, Archie released one of the landmarks of Psychobilly in the Netherlands. Strangely (and sadly), this album was their sole release.

The Radioactive Kid

Batmobile

Batmobile – Ba-Baboon

BatmobileMusic On Vinyl – MOV7058 [2021]
Ba-Baboon / Everybody’s Dancin’

Batmobile returns with a brand new single featuring two originals and a beautiful cover design drawn by Pieter M. Dorrenboom.

BabaBoon is a tribal tune with a jungle beat and could be seen as a follow-up to Bambooland. The B-side is more traditional. This revved-up rocker with handclaps is guaranteed to make you bop. 


Batmobile ‎– Big Bat

batmobile big batMusic On Vinyl ‎– MOV10033 [2020]
Transylvanian Express – Beasts – Ain’T Got You – Man With The Shovel – Walkaway Baby – Go On

What a surprise! Batmobile released a 10″ mini-album with a six-piece horn section (three saxophones, two trumpets, and one trombone.) Most surprising, it works. The arrangements are superb and carefully done. The horn section is fully integrated into the trio. It really adds something and completes the sound of the band.
From the new version of Transylvanian Express to the sinister Man with the Shovel, with the “mariachi meets psychobilly” sound of Walkaway Baby and the country-tinged Go On in between, without forgetting the 100% Batmobile sound of Beast and Ain’t Got You, this mini-album is perfect from start to finish.
It’s a limited edition of 1500 copies in transparent yellow vinyl.


Batmobile ‎– Big Bat A Go-Go

batmobile big bat a gogoMusic On Vinyl ‎– MOV7042 [2020]
Drums-A Go-Go / Hammering

Two more songs recorded with the Bosco Horns.
The A-side is a cover of Sandy Nelson and is a tour de force by Johnny Zuidhof. The B-side is a new version of Hammering previously released on Hard Hammer Hits.
Limited edition of 1000 individually numbered copies on yellow vinyl.


Batmobile - Live at the Klub Foot
Batmobile – Live at the Klub Foot

Batmobile – Live At The Klub Foot 1986

Cherry Red CDM PSYCHO 70
Transylvanian Express / Slapping Suspenders / Love Disease / Frenzy / Mission Impossible / Ballroom Blitz / Zombie Riot / Racing With The Sun / Ain’t Gonna Drink No More / Bat Attack / Bambooland / Chasin’ / Cold Sweat

In 1986, three young boys from the Netherland arrived in London to play on the stage of the psychobilly mecqua, the now legendary Klub Foot. They play in front of hundreds of psychos who discovered that night one of the best, most beloved and most influential psychobilly band : Batmobile. This is this historic day this album gives us the occasion to hear.
For many years the tapes of this gig were considered lost or destroyed until someone found them and under the guidance of Alan Wilson (God or anyone else bless him) they were restored and saved.
So here you have the whole set, 13 Batmobile classics from their mini lp and “Bambooland”, with a booming sound that does justice to the band energy and captures the excitment of their youth.
Considering that Batmobile never released a live album (though they issued two live videos) this is definitely a must have. And the historical aspect of the whole thing will make you forgive the occasional out of tune and trembling voice. Just remember that was their first gig abroad, so you can imagine they were anxious.
The package is completed with informative liner notes and interviews. And as Alan Wilson interview suggests, some recordings from other bands exist and we can only hope it’s going to be the debut of a long serie.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Nigel Lewis And The Stereo Satellites

Nigel Lewis

Nigel Lewis And The Stereo Satellites – Satellite Baby

Crazy Love Records – CLEP64434 [2021]
Satellite Baby / Surfin’ Bird – The Train Kept A Rollin’

Nigel Lewis of the Meteors fame recorded these three songs with Chris Shearwood on acoustic guitar and Stewart Rhodes on snare drum December 1980 while still playing with the Meteors.
If there’s an undeniable historical interest, the musical aspect is also gratifying if you don’t expect a clean sound or else. Don’t forget that this is the recording of an informal rehearsal. The sound is raw, and the performance somewhat wild. The terms of low-fidelity or even no-fidelity can’t even apply here. At best, one could describe it as the mix between a bare-bones version of Garage rock with a hint of Tav Falco and Panther Burns, especially in their rendition of Train Kept A-Rollin’.
It’s a limited edition of 300, including red, gold, green, white & black vinyl, so grab a copy while you can.

The Dead Beat Jacks

The Dead Beat Jacks – Graveyard Chicks Are Easy

dead beat jacks

Jax Wax Records [2021]
Psychobilliac – Before I Lose My Mind -Graveyard Chicks Are Easy – Scary Truck – Baddest Cat In Town – Demon O – Drink IPA – Satan’s Niece – How I Go – An Undying Quest – Bone Stimulator – It Just Gets Worse – Zombie Bloodbath

Coming from Chicago, The Dead Beat Jacks are a trio (guitar, double bass and drums) and sing songs about graveyards, zombies and demonic things. That would be enough for a lazy reviewer to qualify them as a Psychobilly band. But things are a little bit more complicated than that.
Of course, it contains plenty of songs that belong to the Psychobilly idiom — like Scary Truck or the ‘Demented Are Go’ influenced Psychobilliac — but they also have more neo-Rockabilly sounding tunes like Drink IPA. Their album also contains, and that’s where they develop their true identity, a solid dose of musical oddities like Before I Lose My Mind, which in its structure evokes a 50’s ballad in the style of Buddy Holly. Still, once the Dead Beat Jacks treatment is applied, it becomes a weird and totally insane thing. The same goes for Satan’s Niece. This one is very close to Heavy Metal in its form but escapes the genre’s grandiloquence by a very down to earth treatment.
This is one of the main strengths of these guys. By avoiding all the clichés and the facilities, their songs are often groovy with unusual structures and changes of pace. Hell, they even play a love song!
By not following the rules, the Dead Beat Jacks have developed an infectious and very original brand of music.

More infos here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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