THE BOYS (’77-Punk UK) – New Album After 33 Years – Announcement & REVIEW!
THE BOYS are pretty well-known among us, especially with their song “Brickfields Nights” being our anthem when were were living in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. Not many know though that the origins of THE BOYS would go back to the days of LONDON SS in 1975, an embryonic, pre-punk band which featured names such as Tony James (who went on to play with CHELSEA & GENERATION X), Brian James (later THE DAMNED) and Mick Jones (THE CLASH).
Sadly though, THE BOYS are rarely mentioned in the same breath as THE CLASH, THE DAMNED or even GENERATION X. They were sidelined somehow, despite the fact that they put out great albums and left us with evergreen punk rock classics which continue to stand the test of time. Everyone who’s ever been touched and love them, will forever be pulling out those old records time after time again.
For those missed the boat and need a reminder, do check this for a taster:
Some 18 years after splitting up in the summer of 1981 with four albums and a number of precious singles, the band got back together. Lets have wiki’s take on the story:
“On 31 July and 1 August 1999, four out of five original members, along with Steve “Vom” Ritchie (replacing Jack Black on drums, who was busy with his own band) played concerts in Japan. In September 2000, this new lineup played at the ‘Holidays in the Sun Festival’ in Bilbao, Spain. Original drummer Jack Black made a guest appearance and filmed the concert. It was the first time in 18 years that the five original band members had been reunited on stage. In 2006, the band again performed concerts, including their first shows in London in 25 years. Following their successful reunion tour in London, one of the Boys’ early songs, “Jimmy Brown”, was released as a single on 15 December 2008.
In June 2012 The Boys went into Rock On Studios in Annecy, France to record their first brand new album since 1981’s “Boys Only”” – wikipedia
So here we are a year later and on June 20 2014, THE BOYS will release that long-awaited, most probably unexpected new studio album. Germany’s garage-punk label Wolverine Records will be making it available on both CD & vinyl LP and they are already up for grabs.
pre-sale here: http://www.wolverine-records.de; and while you’re at that, here’s a teaser:
A Review by Phil Hanson
(posted on THE BOYS’ FB page on June the 4th 2014; reposted here with permission)
January 30th, 1981. Over 33 years ago. 33 years!! Ronald Reagan was still unpacking boxes after just moving in to the White House, and the soon-to-be oversized limbs of Peter Crouch had just entered this world. John Belushi managed to live and die in 33 years. Keith Moon took one year less. Jesus even managed to live, die and live again in 33 years! You get my point, 33 years is a long, long time.
January 30th, 1981 is also the date “Boys Only”, the final Boys album was released, a record which ultimately marked the beginning of the end of the band. A career that had exploded with their glorious, adrenaline filled, and frankly, perfect debut album in 1977 sadly ended with a whimper of a release that left the fans asking “is that it?”. History would eventually prove to be kind to the album with the general consensus being that it actually wasn’t anything like as bad as most people thought at the time. All the same, it was an ignominious end to a career that had promised so much.Twenty years later and the Boys machine had rumbled back into action. Back by public demand, they took their songs, their canon of iconic tunes to eager audiences around the world. Yes, it might well be all old material, but frankly it was perfect and no one cared. When you have a legacy of material that good, at that high a standard, you don’t mess with it. Any new additions would have had to be spectacularly good to get in the squad, if not, then you’re just watering down what you’ve got already. Diluting the gene pool, as Austria’s most famous son would have put it. Quite simply, after 33 years since the last song, it would require as spectacular a resurrection as Jesus managed to pull off.Inevitably, requests for new songs popped up over the years from hopeful fans hungry for more, only to be swatted away mercilessly by Matt Dangerfield. Mr Bumble would have been proud, however Matt’s reluctance was understandable. When it’s your reputation on the line, you stick with what you’ve got. With a legacy as strong as that, and one that’s admired the world over, you simply don’t dick around with it (George Lucas, please take note).
So in 2011, the somewhat unexpected announcement came that the Boys were to finally go back into the studio and record some new material. The challenge, the mission impossible had been accepted, and at the end of 2013, a shiny, new, fully mastered 13 track Boys album emerged kicking and screaming into the world.
Sometime later I received a phone call from an undisclosed number informing me that I was to be granted early access to the new album. In return I had to guarantee that I wouldn’t make any copies of the recordings, rip any MP3’s, and my wife was to be (temporarily) exchanged and held as collateral. Fair enough, I said, and the next day a blacked out limousine pulled up outside my house. The maninblack handed over the CD and I handed over my wife (don’t panic everyone, I’d made sure she’d done the shopping first).
Straight away, the nerves started to kick in. I’d said at the very beginning that if the new album wasn’t up to scratch, I didn’t want it releasing. I’d said I trusted the band’s judgement that they wouldn’t release it if it wasn’t good enough and yet here it was. Clearly they’d thought that it was good enough, that it was up to the standards of those 4 classics and now the ball was firmly in my court. What if I didn’t like it? After all the anticipation, all the early whispers which then became shouts of great, classic new Boys songs, I’d be crushed. Completely and utterly crushed. To say I was nervous when I pressed play (and that’s a strange sentence to write. Last time I listened to a brand new Boys album, I dropped the needle on the vinyl!) would be an understatement.
“Cold sweats, hot chills” sings Matt, seemingly reading my mind as my heart starts to pound. This is it, folks, a new Boys album, and guess what? Just listen to Matt sing those opening lines and it already sounds like a Boys album. No offence, John, but we’ve heard you sing plenty of times before. Matt’s vocals are almost exclusively linked to Boys material, and hearing him singing again just makes you feel right at home and believe me, it’s good to be back. By the way, readers, those lyrics are going to be the only lyrics I quote in this review. When you get a new Boys album, not only do you get killer choons, you get killer lyrics too, and to put the juicy quotes in here would be to spoil the surprise and pleasure you’d get from hearing them for the first time. 1976 is a slow burner with chugging guitars building the song steadily to the killer chorus before winding back down again to the closing bass line. A great opener.
OK, confession time people. Obviously I’m writing this review having listened to the album numerous times now. I’ve got to admit, when I first heard it, I was in a bit of a panic. Basically I was pretty under impressed. They’d spent all this time, and had all those recording sessions, and this was the best they could come up with? It sounded distinctly average. Of course I shouldn’t have panicked due to a number of reasons. Firstly, my cd player was kaput so I had to listen to the album via the tinny speakers on my television. Apologies for subjecting the poor album to such an undignified debut, but I just HAD to listen to it immediately, and that was my only opportunity to do so at the time! Secondly, I am quite happy to admit that I am the world’s worst person for liking a song straight away. It always, and I mean always, takes me several listens before I “get” an album. There are numerous records in my collection that had me thinking “meh” on the first play, only now to be firmly established as all times faves. Of course, I should have remembered this when I was listening that first time, but the pressure was really on for this one. Second listen and I remembered a few good bits from the first listen. Third listen and things were starting to click more and more into place, until after half a dozen run throughs I knew everything was going to be alright. Remember that, folks when you listen to the album for the first time. It’s a grower, which is a good thing. Generally songs that are very instant don’t tend to have much of a shelf life and come with a limited repeat factor. That’s certainly not the case here, and this is one album that’s going to be on heavy rotation when you finally do get hold of it.
I Need You
Short, sweet and lively pretty much sums it up. With shared vocals from Matt and Cas, I Need You lifts the tempo of the album, and the song’s almost over before you realise it.
I’m A Believer
In line with pretty much the rest of the world, if you’d said this title to me before I’d heard this album, I would have immediately thought of the song by the Monkees. I promise, in fact I guarantee, that once you’ve heard this one, this will become the definitive version. You won’t realise it at the time, but when you first hear the song, you will be infected. You’ll probably feel normal for a few hours, days even, but at some point shortly after, you’ll find yourself humming the chorus over and over and over again! Ridiculously catchy, full of power with lyrics other bands would kill for, this is a song that will shortly be taking up residence in the Boys’ hall of fame. A classic.
She’s The Reason
John’s first go on vocals, She’s The Reason is a mid tempo, straight forward rocker proclaiming the virtues of the special woman in his world.
The Boys certainly aren’t afraid to handle the big issues on this album; religion, politics, the financial meltdown and in this instance the band take the opportunity to voice their concerns over the tender fragility of mother Earth and our slender grasp on this tiny blue speck spinning in the vastness of the Universe. Only this is the Boys and you know fine well they’ve got their tongue firmly in their collective cheeks. If there’s a candidate for the most “instant” song on the album, then this is it. Extremely catchy with a sprinkle of the Beach Boys thrown in for good measure, Global Warming will grab you on the first play, and fortunately it has plenty of depth to it, so it’s not a song that you’ll soon tire of hearing. At this stage it’s difficult to say just what songs are going to work live, but I’d put money on this one being a crowd pleaser.
If Global Warming had a sniff of the Beach Boys to it, then Keep Quiet has a whopping big whiff of Status Quo, which certainly ain’t no bad thing. Driving guitars, minimal lyrics, Keep Quiet chugs three chord boogily along like a headbanging denim clad speed freak. Soaked in patchouli oil. And drinking snakebite.
How Hot You Are
So when I played the album that fateful first time, this was the song that stood out the most for me, and several dozen plays later, it still stands out. The main reason is probably because it has a completely different vibe to anything the Boys, Matt, Cas or John have ever attempted before, which is one of the attractions that endeared me to the Boys back in the day. Their ability and desire to go for something out of the norm was always to be admired and would quite often catch you off guard. This is that song on this album. Not sure how to describe it, really, bit of a samba vibe maybe? Whatever it is, it’s different, it grabs you and I love it.
Punk Rock Girl
Another instant song with great lyrics, killer riffs, a great chorus and some superb guitar work. A song that you’ll like on the first play, but probably won’t realise just exactly how much you like until you’ve heard it a few times. Another infectious one that will subconsciously grab you.
Yet another catchy one with great lyrics, a great chorus and some lovely keyboard work from Cas.
How Can I Miss You
Another steady chugger of a song with a large dollop of the humour you expect from the guys.
What’s The Matter With Morris
Yet again, another song that you’ll latch onto straight away, “Morris” is a fairly poppy number that’s jammed packed with lyrics that even the most ardent of fan is going to struggle to remember. They’ll need an autocue to do this one live!
Pistol Whipping Momma
A no nonsense rocker from John with trademark blistering guitars and a song that has a bit of a Crybabys vibe to it.
Baby Bye Bye
It’s been a long, long time, but Matt Lennon finally makes his much anticipated return to the recording studio. Starting off with a riff from Cas that will be very familiar to any Boys fan, Baby Bye Bye is a lovely little ballad that frankly would not have been out of place on a Beatles album and is a song that closes the album as perfectly as 1976 opens it.
So there we go. Thirteen brand new songs served up for your aural pleasure. It’s been a long and tortuous journey, but against all the odds, the album we thought we’d never get has finally arrived.
So is it worth it?
Hell, yeah!! I’d said if I didn’t like the album I’d be crushed. That I’d lock myself away and sob quietly until the pain of an old love now lost subsided. Well here I am, I’ve got a stupid grin on my face and I’m shouting it from the rooftops! They’ve only gone and bloody done it!! Everything you could realistically want in a Boys album is all present and correct. Draw up your list of requirements now, and then tick them off as you give your Menopause its workout. Great tunes, check. Great lyrics, check. Humour, hooks, harmonies, power, energy, production, ballads, attitude, emotion; yup, all comfortably sitting in the green. Mission accomplished. All you doubters, hang your heads in shame. The Boys have kept their side of the deal. They’ve delivered. It shouldn’t work, it has no right to work, but it does. Some say this is their best album ever, but in all honesty, only time can tell on that one. What I can say, though, is that this is a classic recording and fully deserves its place to sit proudly alongside the other four albums.
Quite simply, if you love music, give this album a home. This Menopause is red hot!
*the brilliant sleeve art is by Gonzalo Facio