Compilation CD/tape review
Various Artists : 8 Track Stereo (Rare Vitamin Records)
The good-old traditional low-price label-sampler compilation is always a worthwhile venture in my book says Ged Babey. Especially when it features Rare Vitamin bands like The C33s, The Battery Farm and Kicked In the Teeth. This should’ve been published before the Annual Diversion event, but copies are still available.
With the Rare Vitamin label reaching 20 releases since it started in 2019 it seemed the right time to release an affordable compilation to introduce people to the Rare Vitamin who may have been unfamiliar with it’s output these past few years.
With one track to represent each of the 7 bands who have released original material on the label and an extra song by Manchester’s Power Post Punks ‘The Battery Farm’ (their debut track on RV) it also includes recent single from The C33s which until now has never been released on any physical format.
I’ve always liked compilations like this. You get a flavour of the label and there are some killer tracks and some that you maybe won’t like immediately but might grow on you. It’s an impossible ask to showcase a band with just one song, but in the case of the C33s …. well, their track is a classic – and one of many they have. The standard is set ridiculously high with ‘I Am Michael Fagan’ being the opener. I reviewed it here. Great to have it as a physical rather than just a download.
Wayne ‘As Fuck’ Carey, esteemed reviews Editor has been banging on about the Battery Farm endlessly. Here, here and here. And they are one of the most interesting Northern rock bands around. Thing is: no two tracks sound the same. This band are anything but formulaic – a massive strength in my book, but maybe not in terms of ‘commerciality’ – they go from full on punk thrash, to progressive, grunge, dark psych, and now on We’re At The Top from this comp – a kind of mellow crooner ballad or melodramatic torch song… It’s out of character, a grower, and quite incredible.
…which leads nicely into the Verve-like Hazel’s Maze – On Our Own – a great, sumptuous piece of drifting psych-pop influenced by Ry Cooder I would venture.
Loveless Bastards sound like a Country Rockabilly band amped up to the max on What Did I Do Wrong? Gravelly vocal and a twangy sound kinda like The Saints playing The Gun Club.
The Kings Pistol song Snowblind points to them being a bit too heavy, foot-on-the-monitor rock for me and I would’ve guessed they were a Midlands band rather than from the North. Accomplished guitar-playing and a Led Zep vibe.
Gardenback sound like a very contemporary indie band influenced by the smart and angular side of post-punk (XTC, Glaxo Babies) or Maximo Park and their ilk. Definitely a band I want to hear more by.
The Pagans SOH – The Pagans Are Alive is a barnstormer of a track – maybe a bit of a throwback to the time that grunge/metal fused with hip-hop – but this is more natural, a grassroots kinda vibe where rap meets rock with the intent of having a fuckin’ monstrous party where fans of both genres, quite literally, collide on the mosh-floor, pick each other up again, with massive grins on their faces and do it all over again.
I also love the idea of the band being called ‘pagans’ pissing off the upright, uptight ‘god-fearing folk’ with their supposed Christian values and hypocrisy. A band name can be important… The SOH always makes me think of GSOH from dating ads tho’!
As a so-called ‘punk’ reaching the end of my fifties, I am pleased to report that the fastest, toughest and most raging band on the comp are Kicked In The Teeth, who are possibly the most senior band on the album in terms of combined age. I said it all here: KIIT give younger hardcore bands something to aspire to musically in terms of concise, match-fit, controlled rage and aggression with no flab or excess. The guitar-playing is phenomenal without being show-offy and too metal. The rhythm section are like a machine (The Terminator rather than a dishwasher that is…)
A really cool, mid-price comp – showcasing Northern and proud, underground talent with masses of potential… should a certain BBC Radio station look closer to home than student-friendly novelty-indie-chancers.
Rare Vitamin – Homegrown talent from the suburban North, that brings a variety of noise and rock music with attitude & content to discerning lovers of guitar music with a stubbornly independent heart.
All words Ged Babey