Vaultage 78 Review - SOUNDS
STRIPES AND STARS "VAULTAGE 78: TWO SIDES OF BRIGHTON"
(Attrix Records RB03)
by Garry Bushell
To the south of Ditchling Beacon, to the west of Woodingdean, and east along the A259 from Littlehampton, where the A23 and the A27 clash and the English Channel looks on, she lays. Free from the cultural imperialism of Piddinghoe and untainted by the current distasteful Surrey suburbs chic, Brighton, the sultry sultana of the Sussex seafront, stands alone.
And somewhere within her quaint confines is Attrix Record Shop, who in this shining example of DIY album making have gathered together the cream of local new wave into one recommendable record- guaranteed completely free of Richard Attenborough. Brighton rock comes with a peculiarly English eccentricity written all the way through it, as with one heartfelt suck we shall see. At one end the taste is nothing spectacular, a pretty ordinary outing from the Vitamins, and uneasy feminism/plastic reggae mix from the Devil's Dykes.
But then you discover bits with enough flavour to hint of better things to come: Nicky and the Dots with their pleasant pop promise, and Peacehaven Peter Perretisms from the Parrots (Why aren't there any aspirins in Brighton? Cos the parrots eat 'em all. Sorry) Ignoring such childish asides and chewing on we uncover five tracks which constitute a veritable Willy Wonker's Vinyl Factory of appetising delights.
There's the Dodgems with two crackers: a gentle deckchair 'Brighton's boring' beach blues in 'I Don't Care', and the more uptempo 'Lord Lucan is Missing' an intriguing commentary on the disappearance of a leading ruling class wastrel.
Peter and the Test Tube Babies are the stars of Side One with the very wonderful 'Elvis is Dead', the truth behind Presley's downfall related over simple Showaddywaddy (Three Steps to Milford Haven) fifties backing: "Elvis had a heart attack/Cos he got too bleedin' fat/He weighed nearly half a ton/ He looked like a pregnant mum/ Elvis had a gammy leg/ He had a gammy head/ He had a gammy kidney/ He's better off dead/ In August 1977/ Elvis met his fate/He could not get into heaven/ He couldn't get through the gate."
But tonight's star prize is won by the Piranhas, an eminently entertaining little five piece, represented here by three strong songs, 'Tension', 'Virginity' and 'I Dont Want My Body'. 'Body' having a reggae flavoured backing for words like "I don't want my body/ It looks like a reject from an Oxfam poster/ Sex is its hobby/ I stick it in the slot like bread in a toaster" Expect more on them in Sounds almost immediately.
The problem with independent labels is that the scale of operations involved severley hinders distribution and promotion, restricting circulation to a small number 'in the know'. But the beauty of most of them is that like this it's music for pleasure without any stench of money-making and marketing devices (this limited edition retails at £2.50 at Small Wonder-type places).
And it seems entirely unlikely that only Brighton should be blessed with so much latent talent. Maybe in your own town there's a compilation album ready and willing to come together. What say thee, Chipping Sodbury?