Dirty Water Records

Taking Music Backwards Into Tomorrow

I-94 Bar: Hipbone Slim vs Sir Bald

Two CDs, four bands, one common denominator: Sir Bald Diddley. Or is it Hipbone Slim? There's a severe case of spilt personality going down over these 40 tracks and it's prime stuff for lovers of the garage/surf/beat/exotic rock genres. It's a feast without a McCrappy Meal in sight and there's almost too much to swallow in one sitting. Sir Bald/Hipbone has a voice once described as "Ricky Nelson gone very wrong". It's hard to top that but does "Dion on a dextroamphetamine run" go close? I think Sir Bald/Hipbone could sing the phone book backwards and still sound tolerable, but I like my vocalists with character.

It also helps to have killer players - various elements of these engine rooms have graced stages or studios with Dick Dale, the Pretty Things, Holly Golightly, Billy Childish, Link Wray and Dale Hawkins.

It's all recorded with analogue gear - at places like London's Toe Rag Studios. Some bands make too big a deal of authenticity, the problem being most of them are wankers who can't play. In Si Bald's case, analogue is how it had to be. The idea of running a song like "I Hear An Echo" through some ProTunes plug-in is like the paparazzi shopping topless photos of Prince Charles' missus, Camilla. There's just no market for things no-one needs to see, or hear.

The four faces of "Hipbone Slim vs Sir Bald" are very different with only some occasional treading on someone else's toes. The Kneetremblers are greaser R & B in the '60s sense of the term. The twang is the thang and they're equally at home in the lounge room as long as the decor is exotic. Louie and The Louies mix twangy instrumentals with harder frat rock.

The Kneejerk Reactions play like they're out to rumble with flick-knives. The Anglo-Spanish The Legs are raucous vocals over floor toms, bass throb and wild surf guitar. In other words, stuff that cannot be tamed. Word is the Spanish coves playing with Sir Bald are garage-punkers - and it shows.

I could go through and name every track (easy when you have a listing in front of you) and deliver an ill-informed treatise on what influences are at play and what the lyrics mean, but when the words go "Put a rocket up it baby/We're going to rock tonight" there isn't much point. And I mean that in the best possible way. Just get off your arse and grab it. - The Barman

Dirty Water Records London