SIDE A: FOREWORD (LIVE REVIEW)
The above link is Hellfire boss Jamie McDermid’s awesome article (which we’ll file under gonzo), his review of Trongate Rum Riots’ album launch night. The tale of drunken anarchy he describes in it has a sub plot though… Mine.
Because El Hefe and I started that day with pre-gig drinks at the NHC shop, as we often do, but this day we danced with the devil Scrumpy. The potent cider has a special mind-bending property to it, a particular kind of drunk that can’t be described but only experienced, usually with catastrophic results. I could drink beer or Strongbow all night long, but after even just a few Scrumpies you start to feel it, and they’re moreish in their addictive saccharine taste.
We were inebriated by dinner time, and I was tempted to head to the safety and familiarity of the TRR/Joe Bone gig with Jamie, but the music journalist in me prevailed and I decided to take myself out my comfort zone and go see some music I hadn’t seen yet (well not really my comfort zone as gigs are my natural habitat, familiar or no, but out my comfort zone in I was alone and completely sideways on Scrumpy Jack).
The destination, The Red Eyes’ 20th anniversary and album launch at Audio. The Red Eyes hadn’t played since supporting The Vibrators in 1998, if they’d been around that long and supported legends like that, they must be good...
Like two punch-drunk pinballs we headed off to our separate gigs through the pin-table of Glasgow’s streets, unctuous with rain. I acquired a nice Israeli chap named Miki and took him along too, as there were two tickets. I had a ‘straightener’ on the way to sort me out, but that made me too sober. So I detoured to a Wetherspoon’s shithole at the last leg of the journey, and knocked back a few Wild Turkeys to balance it out, which, given the drink’s destructive capabilities, might not have seemed wise to a casual observer, but that was a perfectly logical step for someone in the depths of a Scrumpy binge.
I finally made it to the gig, almost vertical, just in time to catch Strung Out Nights. Fudgie has done well since leaving The Cherry Reds, booked to support legends Spunge, as well as to play at Rebellion Festival. He has also supported local greats like The Dark Vibes and Jackal Trades among others, as well as international legend Chuck Mosley.
A one-man ska-punk band, and a very talented and skilled musician, ever on the rise, keep your eyes decorticated for Strung Out Nights. His superlative cover of the punk anthem ‘Linoleum’ by NOFX is always a highlight of my evening, but he also brings plenty of his creativity to the fore with a host of original tunes under his belt.
Next on was The Heavy Drapes, a thunderous cacophony of aggressive rock and roll clashing with pure three-chord punk power, bliss to my drunken ears. Too drunk to mosh though, even though I want to, so I settle for lurching against the wall and nodding my head vigorously. A few more ciders and shots consumed conspired with several hours of heavy drinking and a lack of food, and I abruptly suffered a blackout about halfway through their glorious set…
A long, dark time passed on the eternal highway of drunken unconsciousness, and I awoke on the living room floor with the cold light of dawn seeping in through the window and casting its intrusive gleam on my guilty form, and Velvet Underground’s ‘Venus In Furs’ playing on a skipping loop on my record player.
I lay wracked with The Fear and covered in cold kebab, unable to recollect anything beyond The Drapes, the taste of stale cigarettes and alcohol in my mouth and the weight of paranoia on my mind, as I imagined what terrible events must have occurred during my dipsomaniacal rampage. The only beacon of light in this miserable scene was the cold cans of Scrumpy that had somehow found their way into my fridge, and I dispel the nausea with a healthy swig of one.
The curse of the so-called ‘gonzo’ journalist, even HST missed the Ali/Forman fight when he passed out in the pool. So, the gonzo disclaimer applies once again, although it doesn’t happen that often, I usually politely wait until after the gig to black out and fall over. There is a panic button though a journalist can press in these situations, by doing the next best thing, a review of the album, this also sometimes helps to jog flashbacks, for better or worse.
And that’s where you find me now, sober, returned from my holidays, some weeks later, and looking at the fuliginous grey artwork of ‘Man and Boy’. There’s some cool font for the track listing on the back, as well as the wee NHC logo in the left-hand corner, opposite the Falling Down Records one. It’s awesome to find a lyrics sheet inside, you don’t get lyrics with albums enough these days, and they are essential to fully understanding and absorbing the songs.
SIDE B: ALBUM REVIEW
A review on an actual CD for a change and I rig the Bose speaker up through the stereo, slide the disk in, and lighting a joint I press play. Some thumping bass and rising distortion kick things off, and an ascending melody that then slams in with a pickslide and a crashing of drums. This is good familiar punk, old skool with a modern cleanness, harmonies, sing-along verses and soaring riffs. Obviously all very proficient with their respective instruments, as the sound is tight and every key change well positioned. A heavy Stiff Little Fingers vibe to the whole thing, with traces of The Buzzcocks.
The general feel is an unusually well balanced mix of British, snotty, raw, older punk, and the more melodic, contemporary US-based version from across the pond. The snarling lead vocs offset the harmonious backing vocs nicely and there’s even a bit of oi style thrown in briefly to mix it up. The sound is like a smooth, cool milkshake of all the different punk subgenres intermingled.
The music chops nicely between dark and light sounds, and is an expertly decocted broth of the best elements of all the generations, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Sometimes even plunging into pure psychedelic dystopia, but always resurfacing quickly with those heavy chops and rumbling basslines that define the band.
There are some nice, transitory chilled-out acoustic offerings on the album too, as in the opening to the melodious and heartfelt ‘You Fade Away’, which then progresses into a bassy, atmospheric opus overlaid with passionate guitar licks. Long sweeping soundscapes like ‘You Fade Away’ are accompanied by breakneck Ramones-paced intermittent bursts like ‘Regrets’, which also features a nice nod to Joy Division at the end, I had to pause the music though, before I could place the lyrics.
There’s all sorts of stuff going on in this record, it doesn’t rest on its laurels, it churns out good music at a feverish pace a ’la The Dickies, but with moody, reflective moments, that are never far from hammering in heavy in case you look away too long. Watch out for some skilful guitar solos too, which blossom up out of nowhere and are always superbly distributed. And some great lyrics coruscating among the hooky choruses;
“All the ghosts from the past come back to haunt me on social media, from grainy black and white to technicolour that’s how it feels”.
Stand-out track ‘Friday Girl’ blends smoothly into ‘Remember My Name’ and I haven’t found a disappointing track yet. The Red Eyes know when to speed up, and they know when to slow down, and they master both settings. There are always surprises too, like the string arrangement in ‘No More Tears For Daddy’, a moving and touching song with pulchritudinous piano and painfully poignant lyrics, a very nice touch as a closing track.
This record is almost a concept album, the near culmination of a life journey, from boy to man, or from boys in a band to men in a band, and reflects it well. A well-produced piece of punk promiscuity (unprotected sex with multiple subgenres) and with all the ignitable elements of a great rock n’ roll record. Each component of a good piece of meritorious music masterfully delivered in a miasma of melodies.
Follow the band on their page here https://www.facebook.com/The-Red-Eyes-174928245876759/ they are well-seasoned and have supported a huge glitterati of punk rock icons, they have played all over the UK and have a few albums under their belt too. This one (Man & Boy) is available here https://theredeyes.bandcamp.com/album/man-and-boy, well worth the asking price of £8, especially if you’re a fan of local music, new underground stuff, punk, or even just good rock music, it’s not brutal, sloppy out-and-out punk, far from it, there are some poppy undertones dispersed throughout. You can catch the band live with Dogtooth supporting The Vapors (Turning Japanese) June 23rd, details can be found here https://www.facebook.com/events/278062762639214/ as well as an acoustic set at Rebellion Punk Festival for those attending that.
A great record, and if I see The Red Eyes on their 25th anniversary tour, I’ll be sure to catch them sober(ish), this time - no Scrumpies or Wild Turkey, just the beer…
The Red Eyes are: Alan Bishop (lead vocs/guitar), Alex King (backing vocs/lead guitar/keyboards), David Bradford (bass) and Kev McInally (drums).
Seeya’ in the pit