Hancox ‘Vegas Lights’ (I Sold My Soul Media)
CD/DL
Released 7th December 2012

Not sure whether this is a side project, a solo album or merely a change in name…Hancox being the surname of Pip Hancox the front man of legendary psychobilly hell raisers Guana Batz. Hancox has for many years lived in the United States; this has not prevented the Batz from performing – the issue being resolved by having both a US version and a UK/European version, with Pip fronting both; so quite how this release is classed is unclear; that said it matters not as this one will rekindle your love of gritty, dirty rock ‘n’ roll – no pretensions, non-aligned to trends, just honest balls to the wall rock ‘n’roll.

Hancox the band, includes long-time Guana Batz drummer/bass player Jonny Bowler, on stand up bass, guitarist Gino Meregillano and drummer Alex Pappas; the premise for this release being a re-visiting of the sounds that inspired Hancox to form the Batz some 25years ago whilst allowing the American influence to sweeten the mix; the album being recorded in utmost secrecy out in the California desert.

After an atmospheric intro we head straight in ‘London Streets’ which clearly draws on Pip’s Feltham background, a darkly brooding gritty track – this is dirty, dangerous rock ‘n’ roll powered by a swaggering bass line, buzz saw guitars perfectly complimenting Hancox as he hollers “You ain’t getting any sleep tonight / These London streets will take your life!” the characteristic Pip Hancox whoops and vocalisations are still present, but delivered with a darker edge than is the case on the Batz material; the pace accelerates for ‘Toxic Twins’ fairly standard psychobilly bass/drum patterns, with typical lyrical content “You talk, I’ll cut you”, slight change of direction during ‘Sally’ – why does Sally feature in so many songs? That aside this one sounds like it came bounding straight from the Bowery circa 78’ – this will lift anyone’s spirits, impassioned vocals, great harmonies, and that hog gets a real slapping, ‘Black Door City’ is rammed with rabble rousing chants, Hancox bellowing “Anarchy, Anarchy” over pummelling bass and crashing chords, if Hancox take this out on the road, this one will truly ignite the mosh-pit, ‘Beautiful Creature’ leans just too much towards the Stray cats, though is saved by a neat guitar solo courtesy of Meregillano – ‘’7th Daughter’ is one of the stand-out tracks, underpinned by that deep lush bass which just ripples with energy, some outstanding guitar work jousting with the vocals and a breakdown section with near whispered harmonies before returning in an octane fuelled rush – glorious; ‘Carburettor’ is perfectly titled, the sound of a race tuned hotrod thundering down the interstate.

I specified interstate as the entire album is steeped in Americana, and I’m not referring to that tepid music genre; the album evokes the underbelly, the grizzled city streets away form the razzmatazz of tourist America, the bars and joints frequented by Rocket From The Crypt, and The Reverend Horton Heat, as they know the juke box will be playing the Shack Shakers…

 

Title track ‘Vegas Lights’ is a real curve ball, a lament to lost relationship “I’ll find her again someday” Hancox hollers, his voice surprises in its ability to convey his desperation without resorting to the more typical full throttle roar.

For reasons best known to the band they chose to close the set with a cover of Blondie’s ‘Call Me’ – perhaps its just me, but Deborah Harry is iconic and to cover her work, and particularly such a well known number, and in a generally faithful reproduction seems pointless; cover it by all means, but do something with it – the only disappointment on an otherwise excellent album.

Track Listing:
Intro
London Streets
Toxic Twins
Sally
Black Door City
Beautiful Creature
7th Daughter
Ellinore
Carburetor
Bleed
Shake
Vegas Lights
Call Me

The Guana Batz are apparently set for a new album in 2013, it will be interesting to see if this project influences the final sound.

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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.

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