Miscellaneous: Blood on the Cats
Miscellaneous: Blood On The Cats (Even Bloodier Edition) (Cherry Red Records)
2CD | DL
Reference date: March 18, 2022
A welcome reissue of the 1983 Anagram Records compilation blood on catsnow expanded and renamed Even Bloodier Edition to include a total of 56 tracks spread across 2 CDs housed in a neat digipack with a 20-page booklet written by Craig Brackenridge (author of Hell’s Bent On Rockin: A History of Psychobilly – out of print , but worth finding) which features original release artwork and a selection of concert posters from the era, including many from the Klub Foot venue which evolved into the epicenter of British rockabilly/psychobilly , and itself spawning a series of vital album recordings.
As punk split into post-punk, new romantics and UK82, one scene, despite the gravity-defying puffs, seemed to remain in the underground. Drawing on the spark of punk while throwing an ear to the 50s, but with up-to-date transatlantic inspiration like The Cramps, the UK offered bands like Alien Sex Fiend, The Guana Batz and The Meteors, all of which were very different but somehow brought together under the psychobilly banner.
The original Cats album is included in its entirety and features Alien Sex Demon‘s Wild Women which was originally released on their Youth (Killing Joke) produced Who’s Been Sleeping In My Brain? album; Alien Sex Fiend was one of those bands that seemed to straddle both the emerging psychobilly and proto-goth scenes. Their first gig was in December 1982 at the now legendary Batcave club, but their sound had clear roots in the rock & roll quagmire of the late 50s; Wild Women has elements of both genres, a dirty rockabilly beat but with bloodcurdling vocals. Sunglasses after dark, taking their name from a track by Cramps, were firmly in the psychobilly genre, although Swamp Baby had elements of early garage rock & roll in the mix; good to hear Fats Terminal’s bone orchard again, one of the few bands in the early psychobilly scene to have a lead singer.
The Guana Batz broke out of Feltham in 1983 with long-sleeved tattoos, a solid slap bass, dodgy shorts, Pip Dog and some of the era’s most accomplished tunes. Cannibal Run is a prime example with incendiary vocals, face-skinning guitar riffs, and a drum beat that ignited the wrecks.
also Meteors here in their first incarnation with Graveyard Stomp, which was the turning point of their 1981 single Radioactive Kid. Founder P. Paul Fenech seems to share with his “only Meteors are pure psychobillyclaim – it says they knew how to rock a dance floor! Screaming Lord Sutch was a great British eccentric, a novelty, although he was able to support The Cramps and The Meteors with whom he released a 12″ split in 1981, listening to Murder In The Graveyard you can’t deny he was influential, especially in terms of lyrical content.
Stingrays illustrate how diverse the scene was, they sounded like rockabillies, leader Bal’s quiff was a work of art in themselves, they had a punk attitude, but their sound was pure 60s trash, here with the dinosaurs revitalized that were originally released on the legendary Big Beat label. I was always unsure if The Outcasts were the same Outcasts who released Self Conscious Over You on Good Vibrations in 1979, turns out they were identical, but had toured with The Meteors whose influence had certainly rubbed off! Seven Deadly Sins is an accomplished, moody piece of rockabilly that’s hard to equate with the work of the same band.
The panther is burning rounding off the Cats album with their take on the Sonny Burgess classic Red Headed Woman. Led by Memphis-born Tav Falco and including Alex Chilton, it should have secured greater success for Panther Burns, but their undefinable mix of dark blues, country and traditional folk music colliding with rock suggested more of a arthouse project, that said their contribution to Cats is as raw and visceral as you’re likely to find anywhere.
Disc One is expanded to include The Revillos who contribute the magnificent Voodoo, taken from their debut album Rev Up in late 1980, other noteworthy inclusions come from the wonderful Inca Babies which feature The Interior, their self-produced debut single, which twists and contorts on the back of a meandering guitar riff, while cannibals threaten to demolish your speakers with the appropriately titled Paralytic Confusion – a distortion-fueled masterclass. Both The Rattlers and Restless played pure rockabilly, but with enough energy to entertain psychobilly crowds, alike deltas who released Heart Attack as their debut album in 1980 – to be fair to them, they had been spreading the rockabilly twang long before the psychobilly scene emerged. Buzz and the flyers are probably most notable for having future Joboxers singer Dig Wayne in their line-up.
Disc two looks further and understands The cramps masterpiece Goo Goo Muck and the unmissable Preaching The Blues by The gun club, neither band can be called rockabilly, and certainly not psychobilly, but you can’t deny their excessive genre influence. Worth the purchase price of the album is the inclusion of Grant and the Geezers Monster Stomp, an ultra-rare self-production of this outfit from Tempe, Arizona in 1982, at the other end of the scale is Destination Zululand which took King Kurt on national TV screens via Top Of The Pops and arguably introduced psychobilly to the masses. The Sid Presley Experience also appeared on national television thanks to The Tube, here with Public Enemy Number One before later transforming into The Godfathers. Morphing the other way were The Damned who for a one album project became Naz Nomad and the Nightmares spanning classic 60s garage, here taking on She Lied which was originally performed by The Rockin’ Ramrods. banana trees were another group in disguise; this time it was the Sting-Rays who worked overtime as they covered The Trashmen’s Surfin’ Bird which they managed to make their own! Milkshakes offered us Comanche while their girlfriends under cover of The Delmonas Peter Gunn and The Locomotion have been bastardized into… Peter Gunn Locomation.
After leaving The Meteors, Mark Robertson and Nigel Lewis first formed The Escalators and later became The big boys who released the wonderfully titled mini-album Wednesday Adam’s Boyfriend which included Feel It, itself a cover of an obscure garage track by Canadian band It’s All Meat, the track is notable for its reliance on an organ to drive the beat , the organ was played by Jamie Taylor guest of Prisoners who are also there with the kaleidoscopic whirlwind of 60s Revenge Of The Cybermen. The X-Men remain personal favorites of this entire scene, these early Creation Records singles, each housed in a collapsible sleeve and stuffed into a polythene bag – Do The Ghost being a prime example of their garage psychobilly.
The Raymen showed that psychobilly wasn’t just confined to Hammersmith!! They came out of Berlin, offering tracks like Man From Mars (what you get here is the original cassette-only version) which rocks with the best of them, other European contributions come from Sweden Voodoo dolls. The Meteors are the only band to be included twice, second track I’m Just A Dog went on to hit the Top 5 of the Indie Chart in 1984 with this perfect snapshot of the band at their best.
This even bloodier edition is a well thought out compilation that not only captures the roots of the psychobilly scene but also brings to light some of its darker corners, there’s enough here to satisfy those who are already familiar, and also to attract those with a passing interest.
Although this compilation is a historical reference, many of the bands featured are still going strong to this day; Guana Batz released the excellent album Back To The Jungle in 2018 and are touring the UK and Europe later this year. Alien Sex Fiend continue their musical journey, with latest album Possessed taking them in an electro direction, while The Meteors continue to tour the world and release Dreamin’ Up A Nightmare in 2021. King Kurt continues touring, Inca Babies reformed in 2007 and have recently released the album Swamp Street Soul (and are playing Manchester in March 2022) – the scene is healthier than ever, just look it up!
More of Phil’s writings can be found in his Author Archive Louder Than War
Miscellaneous: Blood On The Cats – album review
Guana Batz courtesy of Karen Anderson (UK Psychobilly Gig Guide)