MUTANT DATE Š Yage (Rhythm Ace Records)
Have to admit I hadnÕt heard much of Yage, the Spanish-Italian band whose ranks include Celibate Rifle Kent Steedman and bass player Romano Pasquini of the A10. Now that IÕve heard this, IÕm kicking myself for not having taken notice before, although the addition of fab female vocalist Ana Corril might have put a new complexion on things.

This is the third album for these guys and the first for the expanded line-up, which was originally a three-piece. KentÕs guitar playing apart, thereÕs not a lot of similarity to the Rifles. Yage rocks its arse off, for sure, but DamienÕs laconic vocals brand KentÕs other band indelibly. What Kent is granted here is the space to play whatever he wants, from the scorching over-driven lead of "Young Man" to the more muted offerings of the trancelike ballad "Hold Me". "Inside Outside" is the most Rifles-like tune in evidence, but the power is by no means muted by the use of textures.

"Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" is a barnburner, and opens things in fine style. Memorable with a nice lead break. The mid-tempo "Hurting" takes things a step further. This is so damned catchy that Triple Jay (and every other radio station that claims to be not of the commercial/Clearwater mould) ought to have it on hi-rotation.

ThereÕs something about Europeans singing rock and roll. Anna Corril delivers tunes a little like Shirley Manson (Garbage), albeit with a little less detachedness and a more sultry edge. Very cool. "La Femme Serpent" is sung, partly, in French with a nifty guitar figure, while "Run" is present day Patti Smith in Earth mother mode, with strong-arm musical backing. This really is a powerhouse engine room with RomanoÕs brother Ippolito handling drums. Second guitarist Gabrielle Bruchi meshes well with Kent.

Most of the dozen songs here are quintessinal rockers, with "Kyoto Lullaby" the one that falls off the edge. This is really out there: Like "We Will Fall", crossed with Yoko Ono.

DonÕt want to labour the Rifles connection but Rhythm Ace (an Aussie label) should have tagged "Mutant Date"with a sticker flagging the Steedman presence, just to make it sell. Then again, Kelvin probably didnÕt want to see himself put ahead of what really is a group effort.

A strong, captivating gem of an album. Š The Barman