MARSHMALLOW OVERCOAT - 26 Ghosts CD/DVD (Dionysus Records)
This is a double feature with a 26-track best of CD and a 20-track DVD. The CD also has a CDROM multi-media part containing liner notes, photos and newspaper articles.
MARSHMALLOW OVERCOAT were part of the 60's Garage Revival in the early to mid-80's, which was more or less started by swedish band NOMADS, and in my not so humble opinion never better than the australian band LIME SPIDERS and their great Slave Girl single from 1983. Sadly the MARSHMALLOW OVERCOAT, formed in 1985, soon dropped the rougher SONICS and KINKS type sound. They then dropped MARSHMALLOW from their name but gained a lot of weight.
Their first release called Stop It Baby is only included on the DVD disc. Apart from being their best song it has an almost perfect guitar solo. This is also the most lively and entertaining part of the DVD. It's mainly a collection of videos and clips from TV shows, including MVT 120 Minutes from the dinosaur days when MTV would actually play 2 hours of music back to back. A few not too exciting live tracks from the 90's are included too.
There's some 2005 reunion footage with the band recording their new single Fly Away. In this part there's a short interview with the band. I would have liked to see more of that really, but generally the DVD is a decent low-budget documentary on the band. You can see how the band ditched the mop tops in favour of mullets in the 80's and long grunge hair in the 90's.
While most of their peers embraced punk rock and added energy and anger to their sound MARSHMALLOW OVERCOAT didn't. Check out THE NOMADS / SCREAMING DIZBUSTERS' This Ain't The Summer Of Love for some really cool 1966 flavoured 80's rock. Yeah, yeah, I understand that not all bands wanna be as wild as THE CRAMPS just because they do a song called The Mummy, but MARSHMALLOW OVERCOAT never really lived up to all of their all you need is fuzz buzz at all, and that made them something of a disappointment everytime you heard them. Still does.
They were an ok band I guess. When they were at their best they had a TROGGS thing going. A lot of it sounds like NAZ NOMAD era DAMNED, with a little less energy and attitude. All the songs also have the same mid-tempo pace. When they do songs like Psilocybic Mind or Psilocybin Explosions they sound like a band that's never tried Psilocybin, but read about old heroes who have, if you know what I mean. I realise that I made them look like crap here, they weren't really, it's just that most of it is a little too lame or nice for my taste, but if you don't know this band and are into 60's stuff you should maybe take a chance with this one. The package is obviously highly recommended to all old fans of the band - the CD includes 7 new songs by the way - but maybe not to any hardcore punk rockers.
PURPLE MERKINS - Merkinmania! CD (Dionysus Records)
PURPLE MERKINS were really just MARSHMALLOW OVERCOAT with another name and and a slightly different line-up, formed in 1991 when the old OVERCOAT was getting too big and comfortable. This 19-tracker has a more vintage 1966 sound than the 26 Ghosts CD, due to both production and songs. Most of it is recorded in someone's living room.
There's still too much pop and not enough rock to rival the better 60's Garage Revival bands. Compared to bands from the actual non-fake 60's, like THE SONICS, early YARDBIRDS or even THE TROGGS, this also sounds really tame. It's just too nice. Half of it, at least, are cover versions too. This was most likely more of a side project and spare time hobby than a real band to all of the involved. I don't think I heard them when they were around.
To be fair there are a few exceptions like She's So Satisfyin' where they really sound pretty good even to my severly punk rock damaged ears, but mainly it sounds like someone's dad is playing, rather than someone your dad would warn you about.
Includes everything they released back in the early 90's.
SPACE VACUUM FROM OUTER SPACE - Starcade CD (Dionysus Records)
A band with member names like Asstral and Buttronaut. One guy is called Space Handyman and the songs have titles like Space Booty and Space Monkeys. The band is called SPACE VACUUM FROM OUTER SPACE. Ok, we get it. They've got something of an outer space theme here.
A lot of this CD, Orbit and Plastic Planet People among others, have some really obvious B52'S influences, which is not a bad thing if you ask me. I guess one could mention BLONDIE too, because of the vocals and the general 80's pop rock keyboard sound. The title track is a slow pop number and obviously the song I liked the least.
Space Booty is a simple up-tempo song which for some reason reminds me of VKTMS, though there's a more modern sound and added synths to it. I like it anyway. Some songs, like Spi Fi Agent, is a little too sound effect reliant, but I like the DEVO sounding and very rythmic number Space Monkeys. Their press release mentions the RAMONES but I hear very little of that in this. This is not a guitar group and while there are no really fast tracks there's plenty of slow ones. The kind of slow songs that grows on you and isn't just slow and annoying, I should add. Last track Damage is one of them.
The band wear space suits and their promo sheet goes on about being from another galaxy etc. I've never been much of a fan of novelty image bands but SPACE VACUUM FROM OUTER SPACE at least have some good songs working for them. They're probably entertaining live too. They're alright really.
The cover's done by ERIC JOYNER. I thought he only did robots. Maybe the robots are from outer space.
But wait, their website features a 'please donate money to us so we can go to Tokyo' link on every page. That wasn't too impressive. Just take your space ship and fly there.
DIE NAKSE BANANEN - Untitled CD (self released)
I think the band's been around for some 15 years now, with this being their second full length CD. I have no idea what the band name means (a wild guess would be that BANANEN means BANANAS) but I was afraid that this would be some joke record because of the mohawked banana illustrations all over the booklet. It's not.
From the opening sample of John Rotten saying his 'if you look like an arsehole...' bit to the final puking sound of Bucket this is punk fuckin' rock. It varies from ultra fast UK82 to driving rock'n'roll punk.
The lyrics, some in english, some in dutch, are more anti-political than political really, with a song called Leave Your Politics At The Door, which is about fights at gigs, and one called Politics, with most of the lyrics being nothing but a repeated blah blah blah.
Highway has a MOTORHEAD feel to it. Delirium is a cool song, that starts with just drums and vocals; My head and limbs all fucking hurt and what's this vomit doing up my shirt?. We've all been there, but only old dutch punk rockers can get away with a sing-along chorus of there's no activity in my brain / let's get fucking drunk again or Wodka, Speed, Skunk en Haarlak, without being all pathetic. Why I don't know. Maybe I just like Holland. That's two catchy songs anyway.
Another good record from Rotterdam. I think the drummer in BLOK 1A (reviewed elsewhere) is in this band too, so you could probably order both CDs from any of the two bands. And if you like it fast and loud, punk and proud, maybe you should. Don't expect anything new or different though, just unpretentious, in-it-for-a-laugh, don't-give-a-fuck punk rock.