A HIDEOUS MONSTER - Hands of Time (Off
It takes 30 seconds of ominous, Fairfisa-driven rumble for Ian Weatherall's doom-laden vocals to cut in on the opening song, "The 4th Nail", and you know you're onto a winner. Eleven cuts of top shelf, black label, drink-the-bottle-and-eat-the-worm, acid punk by a Melbourne quartet of veteran players, and not a dud among them. It's been a massive year in the Oz garage, with releases by the Hekawis, the Persian Rugs, the Sailors and the Stoneage Hearts - and it just got better.
Hands of Time's self-titled debut album on International Trash/Stolen a couple of years ago was an acid flashback so authentic that it was recorded on valve amps in a shed to a reel-to-reel. Issuing it on CD was a concession to technology compensated by the inclusion of a gap halfway through to simulate the flipping of a vinyl disc. The same spirit is here but it's a stronger set of songs.
Where mainman Ian Weatherall's 1980s Seminal Rats had both feet planted firmly in Ann Arbor's soil, the Hands go back another 10 years. Choice covers you'll recognise from your ancient vinyl or Nuggets CD re-ishes ("Your Body, Not Your Soul", "Fight Fire", "In the Past" and "Action Woman") define where the Hands are coming from, but roaring fuzz-toned originals like "Dementia's Child", the roughnecked jangle-pop of "Another Fork in the Road" and the sizzling "Long Tall Streak of Mysery" stand up for themselves. Before I wake up, I'll go as far to say that if you shot every rapper, took away Playstation 2 and made punk music a part of high school curricula, these would be songs a whole new generation of kids would be covering in THEIR garages...
Speaking of the covers, organist/guitarist Evan Miller takes the mic for "Fight Fire" and "In the Past" and while the latter lacks the wacked-out guitar attack of Simon Knuckey on the Wet Taxis' version, I'll guarantee this one will grow on ya. The steel-fisted take on the Litter's uber-cool "Action Woman" leaves the Lime Spiders' recorded version for dead (though live, that was a song that defied beating.)
The production's transparent and un-encumbered by polish, the playing inspired with Stuart Taubet's unrestrained drumming and Ian Weatherall's weather-stained vocals particuarly worthy of mention. Have I done enough ranting? Before they take me away, I'll make mention of the fact that this the fourth release on Off the Hip and in baseball terms they're batting 4-0 with "Hideous Monster" a major home run. Get it. - The Barman
OF TIME - Hands of Time (Stolen/International Trash)
Since taking to Melbournes live stages, Hands of Time have always impressed. Comprised of former members of The Philisteins, The Freeloaders, The Seminal Rats, The Naked Eye, The Glorystompers and The Saucermen, the individual band members already prove on paper, a formidable unit. Upon the formation of the band, Hands of Time rally began to take stride.
Following on from their debut 7" single "Youre in Your World", the band stretch out here with 10 great tracks. The album opens with "Im Rowed Out", followed by "Searching", both tracks setting the high standard for the rest of the album. "Searching" providing the opportunity for Evan Miller (ex-Saucermen) to display some amazing Seeds style keyboard antics.
The rhythm section of bassist, Ian Wettenhall and drummer Stewart Tabert are rock solid and provide strong backing for both Miller (whom also contributes guitar all throughout the album) and Marcus Bechley. Wettenhall also handles vocals duties and shows his great ability in the vocal department.
"Making Time" and "Cant Explain" (an Arthur Lee composition) are great choices to follow, with Style of Love closing out Side A and being a departure of sorts. Evan Miller handles vocals here as the band take the opportunity to pull the pace back somewhat.
Side B opens with "Nit Picking" a fine instrumental with some howling psychedelic keyboards and fuzzed out bassline, as the album continues to display fine playing and songwriting.
"Left Just the Same" proves a real revelation. Imagine some moody Cramps/Birthday Party type sounds, mixed with some classic Standells style keyboards, crashing headlong into solid "Motown beat"-esque drumming and then some Chuck Berry flavoured guitar antics, close to the highlight of the album among many.
Hands of Time have delivered a debut LP to be proud of and which wont be matched in a hurry.
- Simon Li
HANDS OF TIME - Hands of Time (Stolen/International Trash)
The lengths some people will go to spit in the eye of technology: Not only did this combo of veteran Melbournites record this on four tracks and reel-to-reel in a shed (with not a sign of digital data in the process), they divided the CD into an A and a B side...and inserted a gap between the last song of the former and first tune of the latter that lasts as long as it takes to get off your arse and go to the stereo to turn over a traditional vinyl platter!!!!! Inspired stuff!!!!
Judiciously mixing the odd cover with their own originals, the Hands of Time have produced one of the best 60s punk releases of this decade (or any other - and that includes the 60s.) I know Mexicans (people south of the New South Wales-Victoria border) always carried a torch for their own Bo-Weevils as purveyors of the true garage rock flame - Sydney had the (early) Lime Spiders and Perth the Stems - but I always thought some of the Bo-Weevils' stuff suffered from a backline that plodded. No such complaints here and Ian (ex-Seminal Rats) Wettenhall is a superior singer.
And the songs aren't half bad either. "Searching" has an organ line that would have done the Stems proud - speaking of which, the cover of DM3's "Making Time" is pretty cool in a heavy-handed way - while Love's "Can't Explain" is given a more than adequate treatment (good to hear it played by a band with BALLS).
"Nit Picking" is a cool, Middle Eastern-tinged two-minute instrumental that would have been at home in an episode of the "Man From U.N.C.L.E.", while "Left Just the Same" is a primal shitstorm of fuzz and swirling organ that simply doesd not let up. Ditto "Mystery Girl".
There are no whimiscal psychedelic moments here. This is a mix of beer and bad stimulants, best appreciated in your garage with the lights down and the volume well up. The only criticism that can be levelled is that there's too little music (the CD runs to 27 minutes though, to be fair, it wasn't sold as a full price disc). The thought of a split bill with those other Melbourne retrogrades Shutdown 66 is pretty appealing (with the Crusaders running interference). How about a package tour guys? - The Barman
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