BLAST!!! - The Grease Monkeys (Bronx Cheer Records)
BUZZPUNKPOWERPOPROCKACTIONDELUXE - The Illegal Movers (Middle Class Pig)
Two steaming platters to go from parts north of Greater London: Glasgow, Scotland, in the case of the Grease Monkeys and Newcastle, England, for the Illegal Movers. They come covered in guitar noise and trash sensibility. As a former Hitman/Birdman by the name of Klondike sang in pared-down solo band mode: "How could he resist?"
First off, the Grease Monkeys (hereafter, for the purposes of this review, to be known as the GMs) and it doesn't come much trashier than this. Bassist, Greasy Jimmy the Monkey Boy, doesn't exactly have a wide vocal range, but those limitations don't detract. They're a virtue, in fact, when you realise the GMs wear dumbness on their collective sleeve (check "A Special Kind of Stupid" or the selected lyrical highlights on the CD slick) and borrow from the attitudes of four endearing New York pinheads. ("Sonic Gum": "I stare up at the big black sun/And chew out a rhythm on my Sonic Gum").
Guitarist, Ms Chuckles Damage, provides counterpoint back-ups, sings lead on a couple of tunes and has a real Kim Gordon thing going. She equals the Sonic Youth songstress for disembodied detachment on "Hard Cheese Baby (Shit on You)" and the plodding but great "Shoot 'Em in the Back" and, let's face it, too few songs these days quote Uncle Fester, surely the most charismatic member of the Addams Family. The guy-gal vocal interraction has it all over the usual football terrace chants, in my book.
It's more rock than punk, in the musical sense. Tempos occasionally drag, but the GMs were working in a new drummer when this was recorded so maybe the line-up hadn't gelled. The live tape I've heard (thanks Gaz), in which the band rips through the Lipstick Killers' "Hindu Gods of Love" in explosive fashion show they're more than capable of putting pedal to metal. Believe me, it's a brutal cover. Original songs like "I'm Not Sold", where the guitars do a bit more than simply lock in behind each other and head for the finish line, show the GMs are a band willing to try a few different things.
The Illegal Movers sent a note with the promo copy of their album that said they didn't want to play cricket, just kick some rock action arse - and that's probably an advisable thing to do considering Poms can no longer play the bat and ball game competently. What (some) English bands - and these guys, quite obviously - can still do is play fast, loud and energetic rock and roll. You couldn't help but rock when you're so exposed to Sweden - and in the case of the Illegal Movers, your ranks include a former American Ruse member and Jeff Dahl sideman in Flyin' Brian Atkinson (guitar, vocals and all songs). Shouldn't be a surprise as the Poms have taken rock back to the Americas on so many occasions that it's almost impossible to keep count.
Anyway, the Illegal Movers are fast, direct and bereft of pretensions. And very Dictators. "Rock Action Deluxe", "How Can It Be Wrong" and "Shake It Wild" would do Adny and Co proud. Not lightly said but there's more than an echo of Ross the Boss in the guitar on "Contact High" too. Smatterings of "Apocalypse Dudes" Turbonegro here and there. Fans of the Psychotic Turnbuckles would approve of the musical tenor and mindset of a (curiously abbreviated) song like "Wrestlin' 'n' Rock 'n' Roll", which winds up the whole shebang.
The only real beef is that it's all over before it's begun, clocking in at a miserly 21 minutes. Leave 'em wanting more, I reckon the strategy was. Come to think of it, Manitoba's Wild Kingdom did the same back in the '80s with their one and only long player. - The Barman
3/4 - Grease Monkeys
3/4 - Illegal Movers
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