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Funtime, CD (£11.50)
...JUST LOOKING FOR A WAY TO SET THE WORLD ON FIRE.
by Nick Garrard
The Tall Boys were up there, one of three top mutha-rucking, bottom-kicking garage combos of the 1980s. The most powerful trio I've ever seen said the Melody Maker of an early performance.
Chief songwriter, Nigel Lewis, and drummer Mark Robertson, had played together previously in the original Meteors line-up and the Escalators - a powerhouse of a rhythm section. They were joined by Thunders-ish guitarist James Alan, formerly of Girls At Our Best. They were a must as a live act, with a regular crowd who followed them around - Dingwalls, Hope & Anchor, Clarendon, 100 Club, etc plus way yonder. They also guested for bands as diverse as the Pogues and Hanoi Rocks. Among the throng could be seen Shane MacGowan, Fish (!!?), Nick Cave (whom, directly or indirectly, would borrow the Ride This Torpedo riff for a later piece of work), Adamski, and Sounds journo Andy Hurt (ne Ross) who became top lemon-squeezer at Food Records (discovering Blur et al). Early Tall Boys songs had a bleak black and white B-movie feel - Beast On The Moor (hear the howls and sense the fog come fade out)-.-Wednesday Addam's Boyfriend and Dawn Of The Flies to name a few. Jamie Taylor, while still in the Prisoners, very pre-JTQ and Acid Jazz, can be heard pumping the Hammond to good effect as session musician while Pogue Philip Chevron twiddled the knobs. Then there's Ride This Torpedo as performed on Channel 4's The Tube, and Take A Walk from the soundtrack to the horror flick Return Of The Living Dead. Around this time in their recording career Nigel moved to rhythm guitar and in stepped Kevin Green on bass.
The masterpieces they recorded with the late dabster, producer Vic Maile (he of Motorhead's Ace Of Spades), came next. Final Kick (which still can fill the dance floor when spun at The Laurel or Monarch club nights in Camden)-.-Interceptor and Brand New Gun (loosely about vigilante Bernhard Goetz who was witnessed buying a copy of said 12 in a New York record store). Collectors note: Final Kick and Brand New Gun fetching ¬£25 a piece last time I looked.
With tricks they'd learned from the master, they then made a series of inspiring recordings in Kevin's garage - these were used as B-sides or on compilation LPs but some could have been A-sides in their own right - check out Action Woman. Dragster deserves a mention too, not since the days of Link Wray's Rumble and Dick Dale's Misirlou has there been such a stonking instrumental. Also included on this CD are ten previously unissued demo recordings, made at a Pathway, pre-Vic Maile session, featuring early versions of tracks, later re-recorded, as well as some songs fans will be hearing for the first time. Of special interest are Two Hearts Beat As One which would have been re-worked for the next 45 had the band not split up, and a garage version of What I Feel Now which later cropped up on Nigel Lewis' weirdo solo album of the same name-.-though a very different arrangement. The set closes with a live Funtime which shows some of the power they could conjure up while treading the boards.
They split up in 1986, but ten years later they were tempted back to do a one off show in Berlin. The secret-ish warm-up show in Camden's Dublin Castle saw many turned away at the door, and those who got in still talk of the buzz they got that night. The following week, the German show had a capacity crowd way in excess of a thousand people including some who'd travelled from as far as France, Scandanivia, England and even Russia! This one was a blinder too. Leather almost-clad young ladies were witnessed by my good self openly weeping with joy at the side of the stage. One Deutscher girl told me I never though I'd see my favourite group play, and in Berlin makes it all the more special!
You too can dress up in stockings and scanty leather togs, lean against your CD player in the comfort of your own home and bawl your eyes out. This CD is essential, no more, no less.