(Still behind on reviews here at Musical Towers, and might likely be delayed over this weekend due to holidaying in Bucharest with Mr P. Shall endeavour to bring some music with me to mull over, though.)
We’ve all had down days where we’re just utterly drained and bereft of energy and spoons to do anything. Ways to remedy this might include curling up in a duvet with a mug of cocoa, blasting your face with a SAD lamp or escaping into a book. As I recently found out, though, the cure for the winter blues comes in the form of Can’t Stand The Rezillos, because from when I started listening to the album until the last track ended, I had bounced out of my seat and was pogoing around the house. Tricky when you were trying to drink a cuppa at the time.
Yet another group about which sadly I knew nothing, The Rezillos were formed in my hometown of Edinburgh, and had a few minor hits before disappearing then reforming as the ‘Revillos’. Why they only managed to have small hits I don’t understand, because from start to finish Can’t Stand The Rezillos is pure unadulterated quirky fun.
They come across as a mashup of all that’s good and joyful about punk and pop; there’s a bit of Ramones, a pinch of the B52’s, some silliness from Anti-Nowhere League (but less swearing), and even a hint of vintage rock ‘n’ roll (the odd trace of Beatles-esque chords, girl group backing vocals drifting in, and so on). Female lead vocalist Fay Fife sounds like a bizarre mix of Debbie Harry, Lene Lovich with the quirk dialled up to 11, and squeaky popstrel Clare Grogan. Underlining it all is some of the finest basswork ever heard from Dr D K Smythe (and listening to most tracks made me want to pick up my bass and emulate its awesomeness), shouty lyrics on all manner of topics both serious and zany, and most songs clocking in at barely over two minutes long in the grand tradition of the genre.
As well as original offerings, The Rezillos do a good line in unusual cover versions. On this album, we’re treated to Dave Clark Five’s Glad All Over, pepped up somewhat with heavily-accented vocals from Fife (not quite straying into Proclaimers territory but certainly close); there’s also a superlative upbeat cover of Gerry and the Pacemakers’ I Like It, and a hitherto unknown to me Fleetwood Mac B-side, Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight.
Their own songs are just as eclectic a mix; there’s the space-themed Flying Saucer Attack and Destination Venus, a cynical look at fame and money on Top Of The Pops, the usual sour love stories on It Gets Me and I Can’t Stand My Baby, teenage frustration at parents on No, the appreciation of fine art on [My Baby Does] Good Sculptures, and even contemporary political situations in Cold Wars. Lyrically, they walk just the right line between frivolous and articulate; take Top Of The Pops, predicting the X Factor boom well ahead of time:
There’s one born every day
Sing song then fade away
Ding dong – What’s the future in the pop music industry?
Alright so you make the grade
Hold tight to the buck you made
Just wait, you been rated for constipated peak viewing time
And possibly my favourite lyric from I Can’t Stand My Baby, simply for the very specific regional slang:
I can’t stand my baby
It’s a real drag
I think I’m going crazy
I’m gonna go radge
For the non-Scots out there, the possibly not worksafe definition of ‘radge’ is on Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Radge), meaning ‘mental’ or ‘mad’. As in, ‘that wee ned over there is pure radge cos someone stole his bottle of bucky’. A valuable cultural nugget for my English friends there.
Really, it just highlights the cheery carefree fun espoused by The Rezillos. And so, this is why I’ve just burned this lot onto CD for the arduous foggy drive to Gatwick with Mr P. Highly recommended, and I’ll see you on the flipside!