Alien Sex Fiend Acid Bath LP

ALIEN SEX FIEND’s musical style concentrates on a gritty, vaguely spooky rock/post-punk approach without any discernable emphasis on songwriting. Nine songs appear here. Only the rockabilly-tinged “Boneshaker” connects with its up-front percussion and psychotic echo effects. Nothing special here at all.

Alien Sex Fiend R.I.P. / New Christian Musick 7″

Despite my obsessive fondness for horror films, I’ve never been overly impressed with the pretentious, image-conscious crap called “horror rock” or “death rock.” But this recent ALIEN SEX FIEND release is terrific, with its pounding drum rhythms, abrasive metallic sound, and raw vocals. Both of these songs have enough drive and punky power to disinter some moldy bodies.

Alien Sex Fiend Lips Can’t Go 12″

ALIEN SEX FIEND would like to lead all those innocent young STRAY CATS fans into the bottomless pit of crazed rock ’n’ roll fire. The only trouble is that they’ve just taken a crash course in rock ’n’ roll trash where sex, cars, booze, and music all get confused and the metaphors get real slippery. There’s a lot of Iggy’s sexual and comical influence, as well as a weird disco accujackabilly track that gives the finger to the rock ’n’ roll purist. But I’ve gotta feel that rock ’n’ roll in my face, nice and cold. Try again, boys.

Angelic Upstarts Not Just a Name / The Leech 7″

The ANGELIC UPSTARTS are one of those bands that write about one great song per thirty throwaways. Amazingly, both of these cuts are great punky pop jams with real catchy hooks, fine guitar leads, and fairly thoughtful lyrics. Does this mean we’ll have to put up with sixty mediocrities before the next winner?

Attila the Stockbroker Sawdust and Empire LP

Astonishingly original. ATTILA’s latest album adapts Renaissance instrumentation to clever, satiric views of contemporary British life. At times, the amalgam seems tiresome, but some novel tracks—the slow, moving title song, the somewhat thrashier “Dies Irae,” with its exciting mandolin work, and he hilarious “Boadicea Über Alles”—make the record interesting enough to appeal to those with broader taste.

One Way System Writing on the Wall LP

An excellent second album from these guys. It mostly consists of medium and fast-tempo Britpunk, and all the songs are delivered with great power. “Corrupted World” and “Nightmare” really kick ass, though the latter is also on their recent 45. Recommended.

One Way System Visions of Angels EP

The new ONE WAY SYSTEM has excursions into three different but related musical sub-genres—”Children of the Night” is an undistinguished slow- to mid-tempo punker rooted in a heavy metal chord progression; “Down” is a faster, catchier ditty in the old ONE WAY SYSTEM tradition; and “Shine Again” is a grinding post-punk cut with a heavy guitar. Diverse but unexceptional.

One Way System Give Us a Future / Just Another Hero 7″

After their first dismal 45, I’m amazed to report that ONE WAY SYSTEM’s new release features great Oi music. The excellent production highlights their soccer-chanting and twin-guitar-powered songs, one fast (“Future”), and the other slower. A good buy.

One Way System Cum On Feel the Noise / Breakin’ In 7″

I hate to admit it, but the SLADE cover song on the A-side is a surprisingly effective merger of punk and metal-glitter styles, with its wall-of-noise guitar and catchy background vocals. The B-side is an excellent fast Britpunk number which already appeared on the ONE WAY SYSTEM album. Much better than anticipated.

One Way System All Systems Go LP

This album contains at least one track from each of their three previous 7″s. ONE WAY SYSTEM focus on the more traditional punk styles, which they handle well, but they also play a few thrashers. A pretty good record, though not exceptional.

Pressure You Talk, We Talk / Shoot 12″

Strong guitar pop with some superficial post-punk effects. This 12″ is somewhat overproduced, but the ringing guitars and overall catchiness make it more than worthwhile. PRESSURE’s sound reminds me of early FINGERPRINTZ, and that’s A-OK.

The Outcasts Nowhere Left to Run 12″

At first, I couldn’t believe that this beautiful dance-oriented post-punk music was even produced by the OUTCASTS. However, once I got over the initial shock, I began to enjoy it tremendously. All three versions of the title song feature a hypnotic rhythm, extraordinarily evocative guitar frills, and a haunting overall effect heightened by chimes. The punked-out version of KENNY ROGERS’ “Ruby” is more pedestrian.

The Vibrators Guilty LP

A surefire hit. On this album, all the VIBES’ old trademarks—precise staccato drum rolls, classic riffing guitars, and excellent songwriting—are embellished by elements absorbed from other rock genres, often in unusual, effective ways. For examples, note the psychedelic guitar segments in “Sleeping” and “Kick It,” the combination of thrashed-out music and Jaggerish vocals on “Watch Out Baby,” the exaggerated Oi sing-along on the rap-style “We Name the Guilty,” etc. Only “A Dot Ain’t a Lot” is truly lame, so give this a listen if you can accept that there are many fine groups around who don’t sound like DISCHARGE or GANG GREEN.

The Vibrators Baby, Baby / Dragnet 7″

This must be reunion season or something. The VIBES have returned to their original form after several years of wanking off. The re-recorded version of “Baby Baby,” one of their early hits, is inferior and thus totally unnecessary. On the other hand, the flip has traces of their classy old songwriting, and suggests that their upcoming album may actually be worth waiting for.

V/A Blood on the Cats LP

The first “psychobilly” compilation mainly features British “blood” bands. Side one is weird gothic post-punkabilly—the songs are miniature trash psychodramas that don’t really rock, ALIEN SEX FIEND track excepted. Side two has SCREAMIN’ LORD SUTCH, who sounds a lot like a local TV host for Chiller Theater; the STINGRAYS, OUTCASTS, and RICOCHETS, who rock out in a real punkabilly style; and the PANTHER BURNS, who thrash out an alternative version of “Red Headed Woman” recorded at a Memphis high school radio station with an orgone accumulator replacing the bass. SHOCKABILLY’s very best song (“City of Corruption”) closes the album.

V/A Revenge of the Killer Pussies LP

The follow-up to Blood on the Cats, this comp again features trash/garage/rockabilly/R’n’R. There are a few well-known bands (METEORS, SIC KIDZ, MILKSHAKES), a few up-and-comers (KING KURT, STINGRAYS, TURKEY BONES AND WILD DOGS), and absolutely no manic psychobilly. Just OK.

V/A Punk and Disorderly: Further Charges LP

An American release of this, the second in the series of England’s best and most current independent singles. Contains cuts by VICE SQUAD, DISORDER, GBH, the EXPELLED, RIOT/CLONE, the ABRASIVE WHEELS, and many, many more. If you can’t afford to buy all the import 45s, this is the way to go.

Vice Squad Black Sheep / New Blood 7″

Beki Bondage may adopt any pose in her efforts to become a rock star, but there’s no denying that the new VICE SQUAD single is an excellent one. In fact, it’s their best release since their first two EPs. “Black Sheep” is a melodic mid-tempo number that’s right up Jack Rabid’s alley; the flip is a more rhythmic cut with haunting Gregorian-style background chants.

Vice Squad Teenage Rampage / High Spirits 7″

Their cover of SWEET’s “Teenage Rampage” is a tiresome retread of ’70s rock I’d just as soon forget (is it meant as a joke?). The flip, however, is more in keeping with VICE SQUAD’s typically polished punk sound. Release by release, this band is sounding increasingly like LIGOTAGE (Beki’s band). Coincidence?

Vice Squad Shot Away LP

Varied in sound, from classic VICE SQUAD to SUZIE QUATRO to punk lounge music to PAULINE MURRAY-esque material. Some songs are totally great, with neat choruses and subtle touches upon pounding rhythms, and others are doggie-doo. Better than not, overall, and sometimes it’s pretty funny.