ALBUM REVIEW: The Revillos! – Stratoplay – The Boxset (Cherry Red Records)
Music lovers of a certain age will recall The Rezillos, who jumped on the punk bandwagon with a catchy blend of kitsch ’60s garage-pop and new wave energy.
Formed in Edinburgh in 1976, they released one excellent album, Can’t Stand The Rezillos!, best known for the hit single Top Of the Pops, before splitting at the end of 1978.
Singers Fay Fife and Eugene Reynolds asked to be released from their contract by the band’s label Sire, which agreed, so of course they called their new band The Revillos, and began making music in the same vein!
They enjoyed a minor hit with the catchy Motorbike Beat, and their debut album Rev Up, released in 1980, continued where the Rezillos had left off, somehow managing to be retro and futuristic at the same time..
It’s the first disc of this comprehensive 6CD set, and contains lots more catchy tunes, with 13 bonus tracks (including non-album singles and two John Peel sessions) doubling the album in size.
A second album, Attack!, featuring the singles Tell Him and Bitten By A Love Bug, was released and then withdrawn in 1982, after the wrong mix was used by the label. It’s since become quite collectible.
Here, disc two is a 2002 reissue of Attack! (containing the right mix, and adding the excellent singles Bongo Brain and She’s Fallen In Love With A Monster Man, while disc three is the 1982 original, with both boosted by extra tracks.
Disc two is notable for the addition of a faithful and fun cover Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, which shows Fay’s tremendous voice off to its full extent.
The band’s line-up was ever-changing, with Reynolds and Fife the only constants, but when their relationship came to an end in 1985, so did The Revillos.
That wasn’t the end of the story, however, as the band reformed briefly in 1994 for a tour of Japan, where they remained hugely popular, and one of the shows was released as Live And On Fire In Japan the following year.
It’s disc four here, and, with the band now throwing the odd Rezillos track into their set, it includes (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures and Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight.
Disc five is another live set, recorded in London in 1996, and released a couple of years later as Totally Alive! Again, it mixes Rezillos and Revillos tracks, with the emphasis now leaning towards the original band, with the likes of Flying Saucer Attack and Destination Venus added to the set. Both shows what a fine live band they were, with the emphasis on fun.
Disc six combines two previously unissued, lo-fi recordings (ie bootleg quality – and not very good ones at that) of the band in their early ’80s heyday, at Colchester Institute and the New York City Ritz. They’re inessential, but of interest to completists.
I hadn’t heard some of this stuff in years – and bits of it I haven’t heard at all. Most of it doesn’t sound dated, mainly due to the fact it’s based on ’60s garage-pop and B-movie schlock.
Happily, Fife and Reynolds reformed The Rezillos in 2001, after being invited to play at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, and have continued to play live ever since, as well as releasing new singles occasionally, and a new album, Zero, in 2015.
As a record of the legacy of the under-rated band which the original Rezillos became, this will do nicely. 8/10.