Or perhaps Kitchen Cinque, given the band's prediliction for magpie-esque assemblage of morsels from the 50s and 60s Rock'n'Roll history book. Can it be 20 years since the Sting-Rays telephoned me on the morning after a chance encounter at a gig at Dingwalls' Dancehall? Two minutes later they were running up the dingy staircase to Ace Records' office, situated over a secondhand record shop in Camden Town.
I remember all four of them, Bal, Alec, Mark and Keith, throwing themselves down on the synthetic zebra skin office sofa (recently purchased from a stall in Golborne Rd fleamarket for ¬£20). They were bursting with enthusiasm and hoping that my alcohol-fuelled interest from the night before hadn't evaporated. When they produced the great full-colour band photo, shot against a ceiling sized reproduction of the first 13th Floor Elevators album sleeve, I knew that we were on to something. I confirmed that yes we did want to make a record with the Sting-Rays and the rest is history.
By this time, Punk had been renamed New-Wave and was taking itself very seriously indeed (with a few notable exceptions). Refreshingly, however, a new thread of lo-tech live music had emerged fuelled by the original Punk ethos and inspired by current bands like the Cramps as well as the "Spirit of Future Past" in the shape of 50s Rockabilly which was readily available on numerous cheap compilation albums. Also thrown into the mix were generous dollops of high-energy inspiration from 60s bands like Them, the Pretty Things, 13th Floor Elevators, Sonics, Standells etc, all readily available on reissued compilations.
The Sting-Rays were just one of a growing number of groups including the Milkshakes, the Meteors, Pogues, Cannibals, Prisoners, Barracudas, Guanabatz, Motor Boys Motor etc who could be seen playing no-nonsense high energy rock'n'roll almost any night of the week for the price of a pint in pubs and clubs around London.
The Sting-Rays were one of the most interesting of these bands as their palette of influences was drawn from all corners of the musical spectrum!! This CD gathers together six previously unissued recordings along with 20 of the Sting-Rays's best recordings for the Ace and Big Beat labels, as well as other available interesting material. Included are the band's super rare recordings as the Bananamen as well as the hard-to-find track from the Four On 4: Trash On The Tube EP. Now a new generation can enjoy the musical mayhem that is the recorded legacy of the wonderful Sting-Rays.
By Ted Carroll