***** 5 Stars
The Deviants have been going in one form or another since
1966. Over the years a multitude of Rock ‘n’ Roll drifters have gone through
their ranks. Most have gone on to form the basis of the English Underground Rock
Scene like “The Pretty Things”, “Hawkwind’’, “The Pink Fairies”
and “Warsaw Pakt”. Although often thought of as a British band, leading from
the front has always been misplaced American, lead vocalist and muse, Mick
Farren, making him the John Mayall of his own genre.
Since 1978, standing beside him on stage, playing Wyatt Earp
to Farren’s Doc Holiday, has been guitarist extraordinaire Andy Colquhoun. In
1978 he had just come out of the punk era, after leaving “Tanz Der Youth”
with Brian James ex-Damned, playing music that they themselves had labelled “Transmagical”.
So, he needed no further recommendation to Mr. Farren. Since then they have
blazed a cosmic trail across the fluctuating skies of Rock ‘n’ Roll, often
dropping down onto the surface of the Planet to lend a hand to like-minded
musical compadres such as the magnificent “Pink Fairies” re-union in 1987.
(“The Kill ‘em and Eat ‘em” Tour and Album).
But six years after their last album, “The Deviants” are
back with their new album ‘Dr. Crow’. And let me tell you, this is not a
bird to be taken lightly. Mick Farren keeps his role as the voice of the
Deviants, writing some of the most weird but powerful lyrics that have come out
of Rock ‘n’ Roll in many a moon. To keep those vocal chords in order Mick
must still be using sulphuric acid to gargle with rather than Listerine.
Musical director and lead guitarist Andy Colquhoun is still
his perfect foil, laying down some Sonic psychedelic Hendrix influenced licks to
accompany his old buddy. On ‘Dr. Crow’ the Dynamic Duo has been joined by
the Amazing Doug Lunn, who has been the big noise behind too many bands and
sessions to mention. But to quote him from the album sleeve (which also includes
excellent art work from the late great Edward Barker, nobody draws Crows like
“I started with nothing and I still have most of it. Music
has always been my favorite revolutionary sport. I have friends in few
Sadly he sounds like a lot of people this Dog knows. Filling
the drum stool (you won’t find any drum machines on a Deviants album) is one
Ric Parnell, the son of famous British bandleader Jack. Ric has had an
interesting career to say the least. Firstly with British Prog-Rockers “Atomic
Rooster” in the seventies and then with various other bands and sessions
including the dubious honour of twice having filled the tricky job of Skinsman
with “Spinal Tap”. I jest not.
The music starts out strongly (and then gets stronger) with
“When Dr. Crow turns on the Radio”. It begins with the spoken words,
“Appears to be a suicide mission”, which has all the Deviants trademarks,
like gruff vocals, a catchy verse, a strong backbeat, an opening riff that would
shed skin, and a guitar solo that kicks in an extra gear. All of it builds up to
an orgasmic finale with the talents of Jack Lancaster (ex “Blodwyn Pig’’)
on saxophone being brought in to swap solos with Andy Colquhoun. Sounds good? It
gets better. Next up is over seven minutes of the Beefheart/Blues “You’re
Gonna need somebody on your Bond’’ with its rock solid structure, featuring
a never bettered duet between Mick Farren and Johnette Hapolitane. Over the
middle songs the music remains at an impossibly high standard with Mick Farren
letting everybody know in no uncertain terms his views of the stupidity of
warmongers and the general absurdity of the world.
But not all of the songs have a totally serious subject
matter, as in “Diabolo’s Cadillac” Mick Farren’s ode to his favorite
cocktail, the “El Diabolo”, a drink only second in depravity to the
“Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster”. (An “El Diablo” is basically a “Long
Island Iced Tea” with no vodka but replacing it with a double shot of tequila.
This should be approached with extreme caution.) Mick Farren leaves you in no
doubt as to how you will feel the next day if you wake up.
“Bela Lugosi 2002” is another warning to beware of the
Darkside of the Force. “A Long Dry Season” sees Ric Parnell vacate the drum
seat to let old pal Phil (Filthy Animal) Taylor, ex Motorhead, have a bash and
very well he does, too, giving this spoken word song some interesting twists and
turns. The band then all return for a final romp through “What do you
Want?”, a great way to leave everybody to go home happy. Nothing like a bit of
straight ahead Rock ‘n’ Roll to raise the spirits at the end of the day.
A truly great album from Mick and the boys. It would easily
get Mott the Dogs album of the year if it had not been released in the same year
as Larry Wallis’ “Death in the Guitarfternoon”. But it certainly runs it a
Real Rock music made by real people, for real people, and
should be bursting out of the Tahitian Queen’s speakers this weekend.
Mick Farren - Vocals
Andy Colquhoun - Guitars
Doug Lunn - Bass
Ric Parnell - Drums
When Dr. Crow Turns on the Radio
You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond
The Murdering Officer
Sold to Babylon
Taste the Blue
Song of the Hired Guns
Bela Lugosi 2002
A Long Dry Season
What do you want?