NIGEL LEWIS & THE GARBAGEMEN - STEP INTO THE DARKNESS WITH....
Released November 2022 on Crazy Love Records Reviewed by Kate, 5th March 2023 Buy the album here: https://www.crazyloverecords.de/.../nigel-lewis-and-the....
The Garbagemen at time of recording were:
Matti Kalkamo - drums Vellu Lehtonen - vocals Billy Nieminen - guitar Riki Viitanen - guitar
I’m starting to think that Finland is the place to be for psychobilly, and this record is just proving my suspicions correct. Nigel Lewis, founding member of the Meteors and legend in his own right, performed a retrospective of his career for Loimaa Rock & Roll Club’s 15th anniversary at the wonderfully named Parasite Garden at Salo in Finland backed by local garage trash stars the Garbagemen. You just know the combination of Finland, garage and Meteors heritage is going to make this into an absolutely cracking live album, which was recorded back in 2006 and is now available from Crazy Love records on some very nifty limited edition vinyl. I, for one, can’t wait to step into the darkness for this release…
My Daddy is a Vampire - Always creepy and brooding, when it’s performed live this update of the Meteor’s classic acquires this garage rock aggression. Lewis’ vampiric screams and wails can’t take away from the apocalyptic beauty of the chiming guitar.
Teenagers from Outer Space - the jauntiness of the original has evolved into shout along chorus over jangling country guitar, which then crawls back into sludge for the choruses. Brilliant.
Brand New Gun - This reworking of the Tallboys song from inside the mind of the the mass murderer is only improved by how Lewis’ voice has deepened with time. Never have the words ‘you’d better not mess with my jive!’ Seemed so threatening, and the combination of unrepentant killer lyrics over a bouncy country melody is so satisfying.
Rockabilly Psychosis - “Is this song from the stone age?” “It’s from my stone age!” How else could you lead into one of the songs that made the psychobilly genre? It’s as wild and fast as you possibly want it to be and has this power that pounds out through your speakers whatever year you hear it.
Attack of the Zorchmen - It’s not difficult to work out which of Nigel Lewis’ side projects originally recorded this song, but the Garbagemen’s live take in it has a different energy: more tension, treble and caffeination with radioactive echoes on the scream of ‘ZORCH!’.
The Day The Sun Burnt Down - Punk clatter and next level drumming on the tale of when the ‘scum newspaper’ (to quote Lewis) burnt down. This is the first track on the album that feels eighties to me and hasn’t transcended the decades between, but that’s not a bad thing: it’s good to remember where Lewis and the Escalators came from and what they were doing at the same time that Phil Collins’ cover of ‘You can’t Hurry Love’ was released.
The Room - “This is for all the Werewolves out there…” says Lewis before erupting into a wolf howl. Usually I’d be hesitant about raving about a song that features dog snarling noises, but it’s just such a fun tune that rocks the distortion in just the right way.
Island of Lost Souls - one smooth transition later and we get the track that Pixies must have drawn some inspiration from. Broken guitar melodies with assertive vocals and a punk attitude make this one of my favourites on the album.
Ride This Torpedo - I mostly knew this Tallboys song from Mad Sin’s cover, and I’m loving how luxuriously slow this live update is like we’re watching the inevitable fall of humanity. That iconic intro jumps and starts over the fuzz and distortion and the deep intoning of Lewis’ vocals is so perfect.
Radioactive Kid - The Meteors’ track has lost none of its fire over the years and live it’s got this lively punk n roll quality which is pouring right into my veins. It’s cliche that old punk artists drift into rockabilly, but Nigel lewis seems to have entirely gone the other direction.
Another Half Hour Til Sunrise - sarcastic zombies wake up Lewis from his sleep and I wish this recording captured the full bass sound because it needs an ironic hoedown to that bass beat from the audience. Those flat vocals bellow like a call to arms and there’s so much tremendous trash guitar.
Get Off My Cloud - “A song the Rolling Stones insist THEY wrote” Lewis informs the audience. This ain’t your grandma’s trip to see the Stones in Hyde for sure, and his occasional flirts with psychedelia over his career seem to have come to fruition in this angry take on the classic.
Final KIck - My fact checking google searches only brought up results linked to football, and this song is the furthest from a friendly soccer match that you can get. He’s just looking for a way to set the world on fire, and you believe it with that metallic guitar and relentless drumbeat.
Action Woman - Covering The Litter and in response to the band’s request to ‘do some more garage music’, we’ve got a fantastic tune from a parallel dimension to our own in which the 1960s was a time of total societal collapse. That jagged, slicing beat and echo will live in your head for a while longer than you intended.
Into the Darkness - How can a song with such a grim title sound so good? It’s as enticing as the sinister voice which invites the protagonist down into an alleyway and proves there’s always room for a really good rock n roll song on any live setlist.
Get Me to The World on Time - Lewis must have been digging deep into his record collection for inspiration for this show, and this cartoonishly trash cover is brilliant and fits with the slightly unreal energy of this show. Fab sixties sounds are drowned in whatever the Ramones’ liquor of choice was.
Earwigs in My Brain - For once it’s a Meteor’s song that does convey a sense of dread: who would want a bug living in their ears? Gloriously lurid vocal rolls smash over surprisingly smooth guitar work and a minimal but super effective drum backing.
Rattlesnake Daddy - “An old Rockabilly song” which is painfully short, but how, truly, could they sustain that intensity for long? The grimiest country cover in history and the guitar breakdown is everything. Finishing a live set with this song must have sent everyone out into the night buzzing like electric bees.
There’s a meme going around the more psycho corners of Facebook with Fence’s quote that you can’t have psychobilly without rockabilly, and it’s countered with other like Kim Nekroman saying you need psycho or it’s just rockabilly etc etc. But this album reminds me that you need a heck of a lot of punk rock in good psychobilly too, and this is the record for anyone in the scene who wants to paint their leather jacket with a band logo or get their ears pierced one too many times. It’s so very good at what it does and satisfies that need many of us have for fuzzy, dirty, trashy music while also also showing what an icon Nigel Lewis is.