psychobilly

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

Meteors (the)

meteors psychobilly revolutionMeteors (the) – 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-live-leary-fucking-loudMeteors (the) – Live, Leary and 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_internationalMeteors (the) – International Wreckers – Live 4

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)  – The Mutant Monkey and the Surfers from Zorchmeteors - The Mutant Monkey & 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. Good album but not essential.


Meteors (the) – Don’t Touch the Bang Bang Fruitbang_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_sewertimebluesMeteors (the) – 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 Werewolfmeteors-nightofthewerewolf

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)the-meteors-john-peel-sessions-1983-1985

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-wreckincrew

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…


meteorsThe Meteors – Radioactive Kid

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

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.


The Meteors - the Lost Album
The Meteors – the Lost Album

Meteors (the) – The 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

The Meteors circa 1983 (Steve Meadham, Paul Fenech, Rick Ross)
The Meteors circa 1983 (Steve Meadham, Paul Fenech, Rick Ross)

Toxaemia

Toxaemia – Invasion Of The Rubber Dolls

Jungle Noise – APECALL 003 [1990]
Pig Headed Woman – Get Out You Crazy Bitch – Friday Night 8 P.M. – All Alone – I Still Love You – Space Invaders – Doll(e) Nellie – Defloration – You And I – Midnight Cruise – Down In Memphis – Badge Of The Assisin – Toxic Blood

Even if Psychobilly was not a commercial genre compared to mainstream music, it sold well enough to see labels sign bands, even when the musical level of those bands was not up to the standards one can expect from a recording project. One of those bands was Toxaemia, a combo from the Netherland whose line-up consisted of Marco ‘Bigfoot’ Emmerig (Guitar, Lead Vocals), Frank ‘Fried’ Jager (Double Bass) and Björn ‘Yeti’ Cremer Drums, Backing Vocals.
There are very few things to save from their debut album.
Their singer sings with a high-pitch and croaky voice; imagine Mark Phillips mixed with Olga of the Toy Dolls but with the talent of none.
The band is not better, especially the guitar player, who is particularly uninspired. The songs are predictable, and for a band that doesn’t have many ideas, they manage to record songs that go beyond the four-minute mark (and they seem even longer.)
The final result sounds more like a joke between friends than an actual album.

The Radioactive Kid

Dazzlers (the)

dazzlers

The Dazzlers – The Dazzlers


Rockhouse Records – LP 8310 [1983]
Get Away Of My Brain Country Stress Bear Cat -. Day Dream Whistle Bait Indianapolis Cat Man _ Gun In Head Ride On Susie Q Her Love Rubbed Off All Night Long – Street Fight Switch Off Sun


Shortly after the release of their single, the Bopkats changed their name to the Dazzlers, not to be assimilated to the wave of copycats that appeared following the Stray Cats’ sudden success. Michel Thonney (ex-manager of Gene Vincent) noticed them and introduced them to Rockhouse records, giving them a recording contract. They then recorded their only album, which was released in 1983.
The sound mixes Rockabilly and Garage with a Psychobilly influence like the first Meteors or Ricochets. One can also find wild Rock’n’roll (a frenzied cover of Whistle Bait, Bearcat), an instrumental (Indianapolis) in the lineage of Hot Rods songs from the Del-Fi label, sound effects included, a cover of Cat Man all in tension, and more neo-rockabilly oriented songs like Gun In Head. Their cover of Perkins’ Her Love Rubbed Off has nothing to envy what the Cramps will do of this song on Stay Sick. The bassist also plays the saxophone on Street Fight, a slow and menacing track. The Dazzlers had everything to succeed, an almost perfect album, an incredible stage presence (watch the videos on youtube), but unfortunately, the group did not realize all these hopes. Perhaps they were too honest. We can only regret that, when any lousy band that played with a double-bass in the 1980s (no name please) is being reissued, the Dazzlers remain a hidden treasure. The Dazzlers are still too little known, whereas they should have been bigger than the Beatles.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Smell of Kat

Smell of Kat

Smell of Kat – Raw Beat

Vampirella Music – 10200009-7 [1997]

Nothing More But Shout – You’re Gonna Die / Evil Girl – Raw Beat

“Smell of Kat” is the name of an excellent song by Stringbeans, a Finish neo-rockabilly trio. This is also the name of an equally excellent quartet from Spain. Smell of Kat formed in 1994, and in 1996 the band recorded their first EP. The line-up consisted of Javi Caballero on vocals, David Mourello on double bass, Christobal Saez on drums, and Javi Uroz on guitar. All four songs are originals.
Their music falls somewhere in the blurry zone between fast Neo-Rockabilly and Psychobilly, a bit like the Blue Cats meet the Ricochets or something like that. The instruments are well played, and the tight rhythm section keeps a solid beat throughout. Superb production too.

The radioactive Kid

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