Racey Roller: LP
First off, it is aesthetically necessary for you to realize that this band’s name is not pronounced “GWEE-da,” nor is it “gee-OO-da,” “GWI-da,” “gee-eye-OO-da,” nor any such thing. The band’s name is pronounced “JOO-da,” and is, apparently, Italian for “Judas” ((which begs the question of whether fans occasionally yell “DYLAN!” their way during periods of moral disgruntlement)). Their bag, if you will, is to strip-mine the velvet tinmine of early-to-mid 70’s glitter rock, which isn’t a half-bad idea, because i’ve always liked bands like Sweet, Slade, Mud and T. Rex ((well, except for “Find Yourself A Rainbow” by Slade, i carved that one off my copy of the “Old, New, Borrowed & Blue” elpee with a steak knife when i bought the album as a cut-out as a fourteen-year-old, several years past its expiration date in 1979)), and my dad would never let me watch SuperSonic on whatever weekend late night it was on, probably because, quite frankly, he thought it was kinda too gay to have on in the house, and households usually only had one teevee back in the 70’s, so what can ya do??)), so, like most other Americans my age or younger, the whole UK glitter thing is a scene which i have, in large part, observed thru the rear view mirror of history ((and someone else’s rear view mirror at that)). And, further, whilst various musical ensembles often STATE that they want to, er, rip these bands off ((in the nicest way)), it is kinda rare that these bands are ripped off effectively or successfully, really. I state emphatically, and with gusto, that Giuda have done a fuckin’ SUPERLATIVE job of ripping these bands off! From the magnificent faux-import packaging ((what, no Jem Records sticker??)) to the spot-on faux Chapman-Chinn ((Phil Wainwright?)) production-isms and the title itself ((name-dropping both late-stage Chapman-Chinn prodigies Racey and the Bay City Rollers, don’tcha know)), this glorious slab captures the outward form of its subject matter as well as anyone’d have a right to expect ((except for the Arial Black on the front cover. Fuck you, Arial Black)), and, as far as i can tell, this kinda music is about as what-you-see-is-what-you-get at it gets, so he who controls the outward form controls the entire situation, IMO. So far so good. Now, where it starts to get slightly weird is here: This album is, indeed, an album ((stop me if this is going too quickly for you)). Amazingly, there really is not a great UK Glitter ((“Junkshop?” ok, if you say so)) Rock album from the 70’s that acts as a template for The Way Things Ought To Be in these cases. There just isn’t. The first album from Sweet – a band whom i consider the gold standard for all else of their ilk – was a bunch of wuss pop songs on which i don’t think they even played most of their instruments, Monkees-style. They then released a string of the fabbest glitter-glam singles known to man – “Little Willy” “Wig-Wam Bam” “Blockbuster” “Hell Raiser” “Ballroom Blitz” “Teenage Rampage” ((stretch a little bit and you can toss the Japanese b-side “Rebel Rouser” in there for good measure)) – and, by the time they released their second album, they were already veering towards a “we’re sick of releasing strings of the fabbest glitter-glam singles known to man” hard rock vector. In other words, NO ALBUM WAS ACTUALLY RECORDED during Sweet’s most vital period, circa 1973. The blueprint for “Racey Roller” was never actually created. We have to go off hunches and approximations. So, looking at my hunch/approximations – T. Rex’s “Electric Warrior,” Slade’s “Slayed?,” Sweet’s first US elpee ((itself a compilation of various singles, like their first UK album, but unlike it in that said singles did not suck)) – i can say with some assurance that the only thing this record lacks is one really, really, really, really, REALLY good song. I mean, they’ve got the “Bang A Gong”-ish cockshaker, they’ve got “Back Home” which, by dint of dink-dink-dink piano, sounds like a glam version of the Boys ((without sounding like the Hollywood Brats)), they’ve even got the title track instrumental which sounds like what would’ve happened if Chapman & Chinn would have gotten their hands on one of those instrumentals from the second Buzzcocks album ((“Walking Distance” i’m thinking)). But the BIG HIT – the crème de la crème de la slam de la glam – is, on obviously highly meticulous inspection, absent. These guys have no “Ballroom Blitz,” no “Gudbuy T’Jane,” no “Tiger Feet.” They try to position “Number 10” – the “Bang A Gong”-ish cockshaker of previous mention – as a legit album-leader-offer song; the song is great and all, but it’s not THAT great ((and what is “you’re a number ten” supposed to MEAN, anyway? Do they mean, like, a PERFECT ten or something? I don’t know about where you come from, but where i come from, a “number ten” means “a full 1/4 pound of fresh sliced medium rare roast beef, provolone, lettuce, tomato, & mayo”)). And wasn’t “Bang A Gong” the leadoff track on side TWO of “Electric Warrior” anyway? Dude, from what little we know about Glittery Junkshop albums, they ALWAYS have a big hit starting out side two! Meanwhile, Guida’s side-two-leader-offer, “Tartan Pants,” is merely ordinary, and sounds, minus the Bay City Rollers reference, like the kind of songs Sweet were trying to write when they weren’t interested in trying to write songs like the songs Giuda are trying to write. In any event, i am currently in the process of growing out my bangs like Dave Hill of Slade in this album’s honor, but i’m holding out on growing the Noddy Holder muttonchops until they DELIVER MY DAMN SOUL next time. BEST SONG: Tough call, but i think i’m in love with the title track. BEST SONG TITLE: “Tartan Pants” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Some of these guys used to be in TAXI, so you know Jim Budds has gotta approve.
–norb (Dead Beat)