Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Empti Fish.....possibly the most under-rated garage band to have come out of England !

I spent some of the happiest times of my teenage years following these guys, they were the real deal, never taking themselves seriously, unpretentious and extremely good fun....they really did practice in a garage too!
From Portsmouth (Pompey), Hampshire in the UK, they formed in 1983 with their first 'real' gig supporting Goth band 'The Skeletal Family' in Nov 83. The line-up was George (Hart) Wipeout vocals and rhythm guitar, Ian (Parmiter) Sonic lead guitar, Ricky (Hayes) Sonic on bass and Damien (O'Malley) O'Delic on drums.

Ricky (R.I.P.), Ian, George and Damien circa late '83

Taking their cue from The Sonics, Bo Diddley, Link Wray, Hamburg Era Beatles, The Trashmen, Surf and The Cramps, who were a major influence on Ian in particular as he was a serious Crampophile, they wrote all of their own material with very few covers even in practice sessions. Unfortunately due to the quasi exclusive nature of the Garage punk, Trash scene in the UK at the time which was very, very London centric and the guys not having the slightest interest in relocating, finding a label to release their material wasn't the easiest so they simply released a couple of 7"s themselves, both of which are seriously worthwhile tracking down. The first was a 4 track EP called 'The Branksmere Sessions' with the archetypal, garage band pose on the cover. (You can find the individual tracks on Youtube).

The first release from Empti Fish.
Both Ian and Ricky favoured Hofner guitars, Ricky using an original 60's violin bass and Ian partnered his selected model (He has a collection) with what seemed at the time, a very beat up WEM copycat tape echo unit. This gave them a seriously unique sound which very few bands were capturing at the time. Their second release was 'I Want That Girl' a 3 track single.

A fish eye lens no doubt.

In the summer of '84 Empti Fish did something extraordinary, rather than get some of the more attractive female followers to form a troop of 'Go Go' dancers, they got several of the ugliest guys (including George's brother Tim) to form the 'Shakin' Sharks'. The core of this dance troupe were Perry (Goble), Tim (Hart), Sean 'Foxy' (Fox) and Wayne (Godley) although it was subject to spur of the moment changes (I even had the honour several times of standing in for my flatmate of the time, Wayne, when he was otherwise disposed). Bizarrely enough they were so well received that they eventually went on to gig as a name in their own right !

The Shakin' Sharks. L-R. Foxy, Tim, Perry, Wayne

Things got a bit skewed for the lads late '85 when they received some adverse attention in both the local and national press due to a bit of fighting (Oh, and a shark being dumped in a city centre fountain), rarely at home venues it must be said and in the main unprovoked (ahem), Empti Fish had a strong local following which crossed all genres (Punks, rockabillies and soccer fans alike) often travelling to away gigs with several coachloads of friends and fans. Unfortunately, after police had been called to various venues in the south of England the guys were on their radar which led initially, to a local ban and eventually to a wider reaching regional ban. Instigated (by all accounts) by local councillor (and alleged perve) Mike Hancock leading to the subject being debated in the houses of parliament. Stifled from not being able to play anywhere the group fizzled out and eventually called it a day late '86 early '87......They did however reform for a good few gigs in the mid and late '00's.

L-R. Ricky, Ian, Tim (George's brother) and George in the studio.
There are a good few live tapes out there, as well as at least enough unreleased studio material for an album or two, their two singles and a couple of comp appearances and a pro video from '85.....dig them up, you'll enjoy them without a doubt.            

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Messer Chups.....Surf a go go !

Oh my.....I really dig this band, a lot !  Hailing from Russia they're off the scale cool and not so unlike The Cramps in many ways, the core duo of the group being Oleg Gitarkin (Guitar) and Zombie Girl/Zombierella (Bass), their rise to cult status has been a slow burn rather than an overnight sensation having been in existence in one form or another since 1999 and going through a few line up changes along the way (Sound familiar ?) their love of 50's & 60's pop kitsch, burlesque, tiki imagery, sci-fi & horror b-movies (check out the use of the Theramin on some of their tracks).
Although more Mosrite and Fender than Gretsch, Rockabilly is a big influence on them as listening to their recent album as The Bonecollectors will show but it's the reverb and twang of Surf which is the overriding influence here, they do it well, very well indeed !

In terms of releases, it's an odd one, some 17 albums and counting, with all but three as CD releases, yep, only 3 album releases on vinyl and their first single due out late summer (2014). Gitaracula Records is the band's label and it's not always easy to get one's grubby hands on them when they come out....so good luck tracking them down.

The first 7" release due out summer 2014
It would appear that Mr Gitarkin is a somewhat talented chap too, composing movie scores, advert sounds and just check out the dozens of videos that accompany Messer Chups songs on Youtube, all this in addition to touring, recording and running the label....Hats off to you dude.

You can't really talk about the band without giving good copy to Zombierella / Zombie Girl....Wow ! Looks like a younger Bettie Page who has inherited all the best bits from Ivy Rorschach's wardrobe, laying down solid bass lines while looking this good seems effortless to her.

Borrowed from their website  www.messerchups.ru

 Turn Blue.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Jett Powers/PJ Proby............Go Girl Go !!!

Jett Powers, P.J.Proby, Orville Woods or just plain old Jim Smith.....whichever way you look at the man with as many personas as names? he is definitely a character and a half. Belonging to a bygone era of where it was a game of 'wannabe hit and miss' with the pop industry.....one name and style one week....didn't work ?  No bother, change name, change style and give it another go......2nd rate Elvis to pop crooner in the space of a couple of years......cut off the quiff, grow a bowl cut, quit the USA and move to the UK, get some overtight trousers and scandalise the British public......cool !  Fall out of favour, get drunk for a decade and come round as a re-invented and marginalised cult figure doing punk and post punk covers before hitting the charts as one part of a comeback duet (Marc Almond being the yang to PJ's ying) before disappearing yet again..........some roller coaster ride of a life that !

Absolutely essential although CD only

This 7" is out on green vinyl
What's interesting from a Cramps fan's perspective is that as most would be aware of the Cramps taking Jett Powers Go Girl Go and doing their thing with it, Jett Powers as 80's PJ Proby released his version of  Garbageman on Manchester's (UK) Savoy label, Savoy also released a Cramps scrapbook (which is still available (14.06.2014) from them as is the PJ Proby CD 'The Savoy Sessions' and the 12" vinyl of 'Garbageman').     http://www.savoy.abel.co.uk

Deranged cover versions

 Enjoy the madness.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Lux & Ivy's favourites comps.

There are no direct links to download these amazing compilations from this blog, Kogar the Swinging Ape is where you need to be headed for that. Kogar's Jungle Juice kogarsjunglejuice.blogspot.com/
Drop by, say 'Hi'.......praise the man for his hard work, often imitated, seldom equaled in content ! 
It's a pity that the labels who've released a slew of Cramps related compilations in recent years don't give the man credit where it's due and they could do worse than take a few pointers in the artwork dept too....Anyways, head over, download and enjoy them, they're brilliant....all 17 volumes !