Thee Spivs: The Crowds And The Sounds – album review

Thee Spivs – the Crowds and the Sounds (Damaged Goods)


Out Now

“With their third album in as many years on Damaged Goods, the Spivs have honed their canny blend of trad punk, garage punk, new wave and classic English rock’n’roll to create a magnificently varied album”. Ged Babey agrees.

I liked the idea of Thee Spivs from the first time I read about them; ironically in an underground rag called The Guardian where they were a new band of the day. They caught my eye as they were compared to Eater due to a superficial likeness the singer bore to a young Andy Blade.

Being on Damaged Goods like the Cute Lepers and Cyanide Pills before them meant they’d appeal to me and had a guaranteed audience of 40 and 50-something fans of Ye Olde Punk Rock plus of course some discerning youngsters interested in the era.

Their first two albums, despite having their moments and plenty of spunk and energy, were a bit too ‘skiffle-y for my liking. Choppy guitar, wacky songs, fast and furious but with a lack of depth and passion somehow.

Now they’re getting older (23!) it’s time for a maturer approach. They’ve moved on from the sound of 77 to the class of 1979.

As the no-bullshit press release says; “The songs are slowed down and are slightly longer in length, with a lot more thought and work in to each one than the furiously fast, punchy numbers from their early records.”

The stand-out song and most immediate is Mickey Pearce Waved Goodbye, which relates the tale of their old bassist leaving for pastures new. (His wispy moustache meant he bore an uncanny resemblance to the Only Fools & Horses character). It’s a classic bit of tuneage and a nice tribute to their old band mate against whom they evidently bear no malice. The verses appear to have a tune borrowed from Television Personalities (Posing at the Roundhouse I think).

Social Network goes for a Chairs Missing era Wire vibe but ends up more like an Elastica cast-off, which is actually no bad thing. The anti-Facebook lyrics aren’t exactly great and along with the well-intentioned but lame anti-smack-glamourising Heroin Pin-Ups, (the tune being a steal from the Scientists Swampland incidentally) their lyrics haven’t progressed as much as their music has.


Straight Out of Art School is a well-written piece with a sax-y Neon Hearts feel to it.

Weathered Men has a nice bit of Ray Davies-style pathos to it before some more clouds of Wire-y guitar.

Jigsaw Man is a beautiful piece of Mod / New Wave classicism on a par with anything the Len Price 3 have written.

Overall, I have to say that the Crowd and the Sounds is not the 100% killer, 24 Carat classic it could or should be, but only because bands like the Len Price Three an the Fallen Leaves exist and their experience (rather than their age) means that they seem to effortlessly produce classic albums without being so in thrall to their influences.

I am sure thee Spivs are phenomenal live and their next album will be the one that hopefully propels them into the mainstream Artic Monkeys or Kaiser Chiefs style, if indeed, that is what they want.

Thee Spivs are playing live in London tomorrow night, check out the details below:


A night of pure Rock & Roll bliss!!!

London’s first SPIV FEST brought to you by THEE SPIVS featuring some of the best live acts in town!

Playing Live:

KING SALAMI AND THE CUMBERLAND 3: 200% Ass-Shakin’ Rhythm & Blues!!!
THE LOVE TRIANGLE: DIY Garage Punk at its best!! debut LP out in July!!!
THE NEASDEN BEES: All girl fuzzy beat from Neasden!!!

Also: Party all night with DJs spinning 50s 60s 70s Rock & Roll, Garage, Punk and a whole lot more!!!

Doors at 8pm first band on at 9pm and the party goes til 4am!!!

All words by Ged Babey. More writing by Ged on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.

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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.


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