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Saturday, April 29, 2006

THIS WEEKS CD DELIVERY: Satan's Rats and Inner City Unit land on my doormat

What a Bunch of Rodents
A nice little package arrived on me door mat this week containing two CDs, ‘What a Bunch of Rodents’ by Satan’s Rats and ‘Pass Out’ by Inner City Unit (ordered recently from Voice Print)

SATANS RATS were one of the first crop of punk bands going back to 1977. They only ever released three singles, ‘In My Love For You’, ‘Year Of the Rats’ and ‘You Make me Sick’, but somehow we have here an albums worth of material, including both sides of the singles (oddly ‘Louise’ was the b-side twice, there was the original and a retake produced by Dr Feelgood and Fruit Eating Bears producer Vic Maile) plus loads of demos. Normally this could be seen either as a rip off or strictly a ‘historical document’, but some of the demos on here are as good as, if not better than the singles. There are some nice riffs tucked away in there and you can see why the man behind Dr Feelgood liked ‘em, they even try their hand at a bit of ska at one point.

Even by punk elitist standards, they were pretty obscure and are rarely name checked when people refer to punk’s heyday. I think this is a tragedy, they were a talented bunch and their singles stand up to anything else released at the time. The fact that their first single was released the same week as the Pistols ‘Pretty Vacant’ probably did not help sales, nor the fact that the NME slated them. I loved ‘em, for me they were up there with Slaughter And The Dogs, The Vibrators and The Drones.

They gigged quite widely, including supporting the Sex Pistols, but internal feuds meant the band were doomed to be short lived. This collection gives a glimpse of what an album might have sounded like, but sadly it is too late to make 'em famous. A bit odd really, catching the release of an album by one of my favourite punk bands 29 years after most of it was recorded!

For the story of Satans rats as told by lead singer Paul Rencher, visit PUNK77

I.C.U. circa 1980 (image from ICU Website)

INNER CITY UNIT, meanwhile were punker than punk, but were not actually punks (!?). Fronted by sax player Nik Turner of Hawkwind fame, they played a mix of punk and rock ‘n’ roll, with the sax adding a jazzy edge on times. The whole thing was wrapped up in a trippy, spaced out, sci-fi package for all the acid heads out there. Following Hawkwind’s tradition, they were integral to the free festival scene, turning up at crusty gatherings from ’79 to ’86. They did not preach anarchy in the way crass did, they just lived it.

They recorded six studio albums, six singles and released several live offerings before breaking up. ‘Passout’ was the first album but this CD features several live tracks as a bonus.

In terms of musical ability, they were no great shakes, they were far more about attitude and good times, but then if your off you head on mushrooms and special brew in a muddy field in the middle of the night, you don’t need Pink Floyd to blow your mind. Throughout their career the standard of their recorded output was erratic to say the least, but they did have a few moments of genius and some of their stuff is well worth adding to your collection. Their best moments appear on ‘The Presidents Tapes’ and ‘The Maximum Effect’.

If you don’t fancy forking out on their albums, go to keyboard geezer Dead Fred’s webpage and down load them.

Their current status is a bit confusing (to me at least). A new version of the band appeared in 1997 and as far as I can tell are still around. Nik also performs with Nik Turners fabulous Allstars (a jazz combo occasionally featuring Nik’s daughters) and Nik Turners Space Ritual (Nik’s version of the Hawkwind thing, but he cannot call it Hawkwind ‘cos Dave Brock is using the name, I seem to remember there was a bitter row over who was allowed to use it, I cannot remember the details and frankly don’t care, personally i think Nik's version is better). There is also a new solo project Nik Turner's Galaktikos. If you go to a propper festival this summer (and i dont mean the big commercial things) the chances are at some point you will come accross Nik, even if it is only stood at the bar!

Fotr an interview with Nik go >here<


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