‘In-Cog-Neat-O’, the first full length release from US punks The Suck was a rough and ready release. Its collection of bratty sounding songs tore past at a breakneck pace, rarely clearing the two minute mark, and although the band didn’t sound particularly original, they more than demonstrated an easy knack for delivering fun. Two years on, their second album ‘Boris Sprinkler’ (inspired by 90s punks Boris The Sprinkler releasing an album called ‘Suck’) similarly cocks a snook at the concept of “full length” by banging through ten numbers in a shade over twenty minutes, but its fair to say that if you enjoyed previous fare from these guys – or enjoy the more ragged end of the Ramones obsessed punk scale in general – it’s brevity and urgency will more than add to its overall appeal. The quality of the song writing, on the other hand, can sometimes be a different matter. ‘Boris Sprinkler’ features The Suck’s best song to date (and by some distance), but unfortunately, it also contains two of their absolute worst.
It may come some nine years after The Riverboat Gamblers’ last full length album, and a lengthy five years since the release of their last 7” single, but this comeback disc from the Texan punks is everything fans could hope for. Not only does it capture the band combating a selection of great riffs at full pelt, but it comprises material that even a non-fan would recognise a mile off. It’s a win-win on all fronts.
As more than hinted at by the title, this release features the Gamblers turning their hands to covers by the legendary Ramones and the just as legendary Motorhead. Two bands that seem quite different, and yet, are great bedfellows due to their love of speed and simple, direct riffs.
For a lot of melodic rock fans, Robin McAuley is a man who’ll need no introduction. He first came to fame as a member of Grand Prix during the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the early 80s, before scoring a sizeable UK and US chart hit as a member of Far Corporation. In more recent years, he’s recorded solo works and emerged as frontman with Black Swan, a supergroup featuring ex-Whitesnake/Winger guitarist Reb Beach and Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson. Most people, of course, will know Robin through his long association with Michael Schenker. The German guitarist was so taken with the vocalist’s abilities, the Michael Schenker Group was rebranded the McAuley-Schenker Group for two excellent albums in the late 80s/early 90s, and when Schenker needed a roll-call of famous friends for his Michael Schenker Fest in the twenty first century, Robin was there, front and centre.
Following a couple of DIY recordings, UK hardcore/noise punk duo Get The Fuck Outta Dodge turned their hand to the covers album. ‘These Songs Aren’t Ours’ brought an equal mix of punky chaos and fun when James (bass/shouting) and Ren (drums/more shouting) hammered their way through the expected (tunes by Black Flag, Misfits and Rollins Band), to the inspired (a fuzz heavy version of The Cure’s ‘Screw’) to the joyous and bizarre (hardcore reworkings of tunes by the oft forgotten Whale and 80s pop stars Fuzzbox). It showed why a covers album need not be lazy or uninspired. After what felt like about thirty six hours, the never resting duo returned with a new EP, proving their minimalist hardcore had a lot more to give, before ending the year with another full-length. At the point you’d expect their drums/bass/shouting approach to be wearing thin, ‘Buzzkill’ actually presented GTFOD at their most visceral on one of the best releases of 2020.
Four months later, the duo released a second onslaught of cover tunes, ‘These Songs Still Aren’t Ours’, which very much follows the same pattern as their first covers release. Nothing is off limits; everything is subjected to a barrage of distortion, and as before, their choice of material is both classic and off-piste. With twenty two tracks filling a strictly limited cassette, it really gives fans a lot to enjoy.
Tommy Clufetos became a well known name after appearing with Black Sabbath on their farewell tours. By that time, though, he’d already put in some seriously hard yards, having already played both live and on record with Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie and Ted Nugent. In terms of becoming a seasoned pro, you could say he’d played with some of the greats. …And Ted Nugent.