psychobilly - Page 2

Wampas (les)

Wampas French Psychobilly


Les Wampas -Dracu Bop

Creepy Crawly 666 002 [1985]

Dracu Bop – Ma Petite Amie – BM – Wampas


On their first EP released in 1985, the Wampas are formed by Alain Marietti (double bass), François Quivoron (guitar), Didier Wampas (vocals), and Francis Wampas (drums). The four songs are sung in French and feature humoristic lyrics (“my girlfriend is a nazi, what are my parents going to say”), in what would become the band’s trademark. Backing Didier, the band has nothing to envy its British counterparts of the time, even if it sometimes remains a bit messy. The whole set is speedy, and Didier’s singing has not yet switched to the parody that it will become later.


Wampas


Les Wampas – Tutti Frutti

Tutti Frutti Records – TF03 [1986]

Shalala – Marie-Lou – Une Bombe Sur Washington – Héros – Trous – Ballroom Blitz – Le Ciel Etait Si Bleu


One year after their EP, Les Wampas released this mini-album. It shows a big step in the evolution of the band and the mastery of their sound. The arrival of Marc Police (ex Jezebel Rock, Pasadenas) on guitar and Nicolas Schauer on drums is probably no stranger to that. Alain’s double bass is much more prominent and better recorded; you must listen to Shalala to be convinced. Mary Lou starts slowly with minimal lyrics before exploding into a fantastic mix of Rockabilly and Surf. The next track, Une Bombe Sur Washington (One bomb over Washington), is an anti-Washington Dead Cats charge reminiscent of the Cramps in the guitar’s use. Héros slows down the tempo (at least in its first part) and brings an almost Jazz touch. Trous (Holes) is an excellent song from a musical point of view but shows the limits of Les Wampas in terms of lyrics (despite the reference to the Magnificient Seven). They then adapt Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz with French lyrics and take the opportunity to place another charge against the Washinton Dead Cats.
After this seminal album, Alain will leave the group (to play with Los Carayos and Happy Drivers), and Les Wampas will move towards a brand of alternative rock that is much more mainstream and, sadly, for us, much less attractive.

Happy Drivers

According to the legend, the band formed in June 1985 after a Jack Scott show. Initially a quartet, with Arnold Baker on lead vocals, Jean Christophe Jehanne on guitar and lead vocals, Thierry Petel on drums, and Franck Marivain on double-bass. The quartet became a trio when Baker left. Then Christian Pujol (aka Mickey Black Fingers) joined the band. When he quit at the end of 1988, the remaining two members contacted the Crabs’ double bassist, but it didn’t work. Following the advice of Alain of Les Vierges, they got in touch with Alain Marietti, who played with Los Carayos and Les Wampas.
This article focuses on the band’s early releases before they moved away from Rockabilly and Psychobilly.

Happy Drivers – Demo

Right String, Wrong Yo-yo / Jump Baby Jump / Tear It Up / London Rock

On these recordings, Arnold Baker sings the two jive/rock’n’roll tunes (Jump Baby Jump and Tony Crombie’s London Rock). Both feature a saxophone, and Jump Baby Jump, though not very original benefits from an excellent guitar part. Jean-Christophe Jehanne takes lead vocals on the Rockabilly stuff, Carl Perkins’ Right String, Wrong Yo-yo and Johnny Burnette’s Tear It Up, the former having a powerful slap-bass part.


Happy Drivers – Jump Baby Jump

Happy Drivers
Happy Drivers

Scalen – SC513 [1987]
Jump Baby Jump / My Boppin’ Rockin’ Babe

On this single, the band now evolves in trio format. Jump Baby Jump is a new version recorded for this single with Jehanne on lead vocals. It suffers from Jehanne’s accent, a recurrent problem on many of his recordings, and it’s a bit young and thin in terms of sound.The b-side is far better and more original with a stop-start composition and an interesting guitar solo. A new recording of this song was made for their debut album.


Happy Drivers – We Shall Be Going On

happy driversIguane Production – Iguane 001 [1987]
Babe Please Don’t Go – We Shall Be Going On – My Bopping Rocking Babe – The Fun Of It – Midnight Train – Popeye – Low Rider – Old Black Jack – Long Blond Hair – You Will Never Come Back Again – Oh Babe – My Daddy’s Banjo

Shortly after their single, the trio recorded We Shall Be Going On, in their rehearsal room in December 1987.
When you listen thirty years later to an album you liked a lot as a teenager, it’s not easy to know if you like it for good reasons. Does this album really have qualities, or is this just pure nostalgia? For “We Shall Be Going On,” the answer is both.
On the one hand, if you want to be objective, one can say that the sound and the production (or the lack of) are a bit thin, Jean Christophe’s voice is from time to time totally out of tune, and his pronounced French accent a bit too present.
But this album also has some qualities. The boys wrote their own songs (even if Low Rider sounds very close to Stray CatsBuilt For Speed) with varied influences from straight rockabilly to blues, with a dash of neo-rockabilly and a bit of country too (you can find a banjo on a couple of songs). The covers, including Dave Phillips The Fun Of It, are very well chosen. All these elements – and I can’t deny a bit of nostalgia – make this debut album an enjoyable listening experience, even three decades later.


Happy Drivers – Indians on the Road

happy drivers indiansGougnaf Mouvement – GM 038 [1988]
Indians – I’m Not A Hero – Tear It Up – Nervous Man – Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You – Crawdad Hole

Recorded in April 1988, less than six months after their debut album, Indians show the band’s rapid evolution. Compared to their debut album, this mini 10” album is plain excellent. It also shows that the short distance advantages the trio. Since their previous release, the Happy Drivers have hardened their sound. Not exactly psychobilly, but no longer 50’s rockabilly, they created their brand of modern rockabilly. “Indians” features the appropriate drum beat, as you can imagine, and a citation of The Shadows’ Apache (of course). Next, you have “I’m Not A Hero” a wild modern rockabilly that shows how tight the band was. The third original, “Nervous Man,” is nervous for sure with loud guitar and raspy voice. It prefigures what will follow with “War” their third album. JC has worked on his voice, and you also hear that the band benefited from a real studio and enough time to refine their sound. Regarding the covers, “Tear It Up” and “Crawdad Hole” are good, but the one that steals the show is “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” Initially penned by Anne Bredon in the late fifties as a Folk song, Joan Baez later popularized it, then Led Zeppelin covered it on their debut album. The Happy Drivers turn that song into a frantic rockabilly number. Simply perfect.


Happy Drivers – War

happy drivers war

Boucherie
La Isla Bonita – I cry Jerry Lee – I shoot da Sherif – Lame de fond – Arena – Indians War – Crazy life – Rock on – Fire down below – I cry freedom – Blood & War

Recorded in January 1990 and released in March of the same year, the third album by the French trio marks a new step for the band. Alain (ex Wampas and Los Carayos) replaced Mickey Black Finger on bass (who later went to play with The Grizzly Family). Not only Alain brought his bass but also many influences that one didn’t find in the band’s sound like hardcore and heavy metal (Cro-Mags, Black Flag, Bad Brains, and so on). He also sang two songs, including one in French.
Contrary to their first releases, they worked with a “real” producer, namely Roger Tebbutt, who worked with The Long Tall Texans. The result is a harder sound, and the album sees the trio exploring new territories. They cover the likes of Madonna (an explosive version of La Isla Bonita), Bob Marley (imagine I Shot Da Sheriff if Marley was on speed instead of weed), and Gary Glitter (Rock On). Some songs stay closer to the rockabilly idiom (I Cry Jerry Lee), while others are strictly hardcore/punk rock like Arena. Another tune (Lame de Fond) sounds like a French folk song, a path some members of the band will follow after the group splits.
Despite some good songs here and there, The Happy Drivers’ following albums (Toowomba and Epica Carmina) were disappointing compared to War, which was the perfect combination of Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Hardcore, and alternative rock.

In 2017, Jean-Christophe appeared in Spain at the 25th Psychobilly Meeting. Too bad he didn’t choose to reform the band with its original line-up for the occasion. He then formed a new incarnation of the band called Happy On The Road with Gaybeul (Demented Are Go, Surf Rats and a electric-bass player. The trio recorded and released an album in Fall 2020.

Happy Drivers

happy drivers

Happy Drivers

Happy Drivers (Alain Wampas, Jean Christophe Jehanne, Thierry Pietel)
Happy Drivers (Jean Christophe Jehanne, Alain Wampas, Thierry Pietel)

Sharks (the)

 The Sharks ‎– Phantom Rockers
The Sharks ‎– Phantom Rockers

 The Sharks ‎– Phantom Rockers

Nervous records ‎– NERD 008 [1983]

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

There’s a thin line between Neo-Rockabilly and Psychobilly. “Phantom Rockers” the Sharks’ debut album falls exactly somewhere between those two categories.
Their sound is closer to Restless than the wildness of the Meteors or the garage sound of the Ricochets. But the comparison ends here. While Rockabilly bands are happy to sing about girls and boppin’ all night, the Sharks embrace the Psychobilly idiom with a delectable pleasure. Their songs are about vampires, skeletons, ghosts (trains and rockers), and Charlie, a schoolboy who cuts the head of his classmates and family with a chainsaw.
The music is punchy and aggressive yet melodic and clean. Both Wilson and Whitehouse, who share the vocal duties, show a solid mastering of their instruments and a knack for writing songs that stay in your head.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if you call it Psychobilly or Rockabilly or whatever, you must own this album, that’s all you need to know.


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

The Sharks – First and Last Live

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

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


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

The Sharks – Live In Japan

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


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

The Sharks – Songs from the Sarcophagus

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

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


The Sharks - Infamy
The Sharks – Infamy

The Sharks – Infamy

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

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


Sharks (the) – Space Race

sharks space raceWestern Star Recording Company ‎– WSRC EP006 [2014]
Mercury Mission – Cosmonaut – Rockabilly Moonquake – First Men On The Moon (Queen Victoria Mix)
The Sharks recorded and released this space-themed 10″ mini-album in 2014.
Sung by Whitehouse, Mercury Mission is the most Psychobilly sounding of all four tracks. Knowing Wilson’s admiration for the work of Joe Meek, it’s no surprise to find a Telstar vibe in the following instrumental titled Cosmonaut.
On the b-side, there’s an excellent neo-rockabilly tune that you could easily imagine sung by the Polecats, whereas the Queen Victoria Mix of First Men On The Moon doesn’t add much to an already great song.
It’s a limited white vinyl edition.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Sharks
The Sharks

Batmobile

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

Spellbound

Spellbound

Raucous Records RAUC 003 [1987]
Last Breath / Nightmares

Spellbound, a psychobilly band from Ireland, released their debut single in 1987 for Raucous. Five hundred copies were pressed. If not flawless, especially in terms of singing, this single is quite enjoyable. Paradoxically, this is their singer’s voice that gives the band its personality. Their drummer is a bit chaotic, but the songs are good and originals.

The Radioactive Kid

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.

The radioactive Kid