THE HIP PRIESTS/SONIC NEGROES - The Hip Priests/Sonic Negroes (Zodiac Killer Records)
At my age (old enough to know better, too young to care) I should be past the age of knocking over bottles of cheap wine and smoking too many cigarettes. But I’m glad I just swung on crutches (my left leg is encased in a funky green and purple fibreglass cast, from toe to knee) up to the bottl'o cos how could I, in all screwed-up honesty, listen to a record that kicks off with a track entitled "Let’s Get Fucked" without a drink and a cig? Well, I'd have preferred a joint, in all honesty, but I can’t ride a motorbike right now and my dealer lives three suburbs away.
Yes folks, Nottingham's finest, The Hip Priests, have blessed us with another release featuring five of their potent sleazy takes on rock and roll. Yet that's not all, no, not only do you get a set of steak knives and leather cuffs, you get five tracks from Stockholm's Sonic Negroes.
It's some reflection on my chaotic lifestyle that I’ve only just realised that Sonic Negroes is NOT the title of The Hip Priests’ latest album. Now I'm actually listening to it, the differences are clear enough to the trained ear. If the Priests bear a flavour of New York, then the Negroes have a spice of Detroit and the best of Nuggets (what am I bid, folks, for an original Elektra pressing of Nuggets? I need a GSX-R rear shock).
This is rock and roll to party with, drink with, fall over and laugh and have yourself a wild ol' hell of a time to. As I write, a sophisticated, intelligent blonde woman from Hollywood
(Paris? - ED) is winging her way here to hang out with me for a coupla weeks. Her favourite drink is tequila, and I’ll be packing this rockin' li'l disc when we head down the coast for a few days, you betcha!
- Earl O'Neill
TIGHT ‘N’ EXCITING - The Hip Priests (Bootleg Booze)
Ya gotta hand it to these guys, it shows some damn nerve to give yr album a title like that, but they live up to their own publicity. So much so, that the title might just about suffice for a review. Because, fact is, they are tighter than a skinny virgin’s pussy and have that rare quality of excitement.
It’s hard to pin down, but this kinda rock and roll excitement has a lot to do with a band being tight, tight enough that they can stick together while charging thru' at some hotarse breakneck pace, the drums and bass gtr locked in to each other, the guitar screaming and wailing away while the singer (singer?) hollers on with the tales you’d expect from song titles like ‘"Juiced Up ‘n’ Loose" and "Teenage friction". They aint re-writing the rulebook, by any stretch of the imagination, they just do it with a great sense of panache.
It aint irrelevant that they’re from Nottingham. Far enough away from England’s style centres of London and Manchester to develop their own thing, yet that thing is what we’d more often think of as American. Interesting, really, how much rock and roll, from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones onwards, is all about Poms aping Yanks and in the process, stumbling upon something that becomes their own thing and nudges the course of history onward.
Then again, the Hip Priests don’t nudge it all that far, they just rip into it, and aint it a wonderful thing? These Priests are also smart enough to hook into some great production. It’s a thick, raw, sound, the studio equivalent of a band playing in a small room (only it’d never sound this good if you were in the room) with a distorted treble edge on everything. Even the vocals are overdriven. If records were still made on analogue desks and magnetic tape, I’d figure that they just overdrove every little VU meter and EQ amp as far as they could. As it is, I guess Simon at Sirkus Studios is a cluey fellow who knows how to replicate that sound with a bunch of digital plugins, and more power to him, 'cos this record sounds fucking hot!
That Englishness shows through in their sense of humour, too. Copyright statement puts ‘tunes’ in inverted commas. You can just about hear the tongue in cheek, just enough so they don’t come across as humourless dicks, but not so far that they end up with that condescending sense of artiness. You can’t rock and roll like this without being into the music and that sense of freedom and release. You can tell that these guys – Gary X-Ray, Lee Love, Fast Jimmy HP (as in HP Sauce? – Keith Richards loves his HP) and Skintight Tim – abso-fucking-lutely love playing in this band, and why wouldn’t they?
The Hip Priests won’t necessarily change your world, but they will make your corner of it a much more happening place to be. Find yrself a tattooed babe like covergirl Lady Frankenstein, lay in some vodka, meth, hydro and a bag of toys from yr local adult supermarket, crank up ‘Tight n Exciting’ and do what comes most unnaturally!
HERE ENDETH THE REVIEW - Earl O'Neill
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