"As for White Heat, well that is just a jerky ride on grandad's motorbike. It's slightly bug-eyed and strained, but it rocks in a Live at the Witch Trials kinda way."
Vic du Monte – Persona Non Grata
Now, it may not be trendy to own good old fashioned slightly gothic rockabilly records at present, but I would entreat you that if you so wish to buy an example of the genre then this is the one that you should own. It's got a groove and a restless energy not heard since the Birthday Party or the early Cramps. Persona Non Grata just hangs together so well sonically – hitting the ground running with the foot -stomper Hidden in Plain Sight that conjures up mental images of Hannah Barbera cartoon chases (the ones in which one character pursues the other round the same tree). It's fab and groovy!
High on the Sky bursts in on a rumbling bass line. Preacher Vic stands tall in the pulpit and promises a brimstone tinged future for us all. A rumbling roof-shaking ending and his listener is left breathless. This is a definite step-up from their last release, that's for sure. A more confident outing, too. The song Strays has a great clippety-clop rhythm which is such a laugh and is off-set by a rolling pissed up chorus. What I also love are the signs that the band has at last managed to define a more cohesive, rougher, more inclusive sound. The following track, Senators is, in turns daft knees-up and creepy cine-noir tale underpinned by a Seeds style organ line. There's a nod to the Stranglers in there too and some crazy whooping from Vic du Monte to round it all off. Yankee Dollar sees a foray into a acid-tinged melancholy, a very West Coast guitar solo somehow gets smuggled in. It's pretty intense stuff and one of the best tracks on this release. As for White Heat, well that is just a jerky ride on grandad's motorbike. It's slightly bug-eyed and strained, but it rocks in a Live at the Witch Trials kinda way.
Things slow down for House of Cards, but only for about 30 seconds. Suddenly it becomes a manic two-step with hollered vocals and plaintive mouth organ runs. Its fabulous stuff, and the proud possessor of a great, unexpectedly reflective ending.
The pace never relents on this LP. 1-2 the Other is high octave ACDC riffery par excellence whereas Springtime in Berlin is obviously (as its title suggests) a wistful tale of heartbreak. It sets off at a fair lick, however and maintains a jaunty air with its yelled chorus. There's a great reflective middle eight that gives the song some time to pause for breath (but not too much time). Crystal Missile is yet another song to begin Eins, Zwei, Drei, Vier but this stentorian beginning masks a slowie – albeit with a thrashy chorus that eventually starts to swamp up everything else. But a Dream becomes a dark, schizophrenic goose-step with a great thump-thump beat overset with some rather emotional screaming. The last song, Dark Year, is a great lumbering emotional wallow, melodramatic in extremis and contender for track of the album. It's over very suddenly disappearing in a whirl of organ, guitar and drums.
Phew, wot a scorcher!
Words: Richard Foster