If you feel like a little fun after yesterday’s increasingly bitter rant, there’s no record you could play that would be more effective at turning that frown upside down than the debut album by The Revillos! Formed in Edinburgh, Scotland initially as the Knudsford Dominators, their repertoire moved from rock and roll covers played with a glam meets pop art flair to hi-energy punk pop by the time of their first recordings as the Rezillos in 1977. Their debut single “I Can’t Stand My Baby” is reputed to be Scotland’s first indie punk single.
They released their debut album in 1978, “Can’t Stand The Rezillos” and managed to get a single in the top 20 with the cynical [yet infectious] “Top of the Pops” before splitting up amid record label [Sire] woes. Sire issued a final live album, “Mission Accomplished [But The Beat Goes On]” in 1979 before Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife re-emerged in 1980 as the Revillos. I first heard them on the Dindisc 1980 compilation album which had the cuts “On The Beach” and “Hungry For Love.” These cuts haunted me for a few years before I went on a Revillos/Rezillos buying jag that saw me buying up huge swaths of their discographies by mail order in the Goldmine era [’85-’94]. I finally got a copy of the “Rev Up” album around 1990 in the form of an Australian pressing that pretty much blew my mind.
The switched-on sixties flavoring of the Rezillos material gets refined several times more on the Revillos outing. They dive headfirst into the plastic pop sound of Joe Meek and really go places with it! They use every production technique in the book and the result is an album that begins at fever pitch and then builds from there!
The Revillos: Rev Up
- The Secret of the Shadow
- Rev Up
- Bobby Come Back To Me
- Scuba Boy Bop
- Yeah Yeah
- Hungry For Love
- Juke Box Sound
- On The Beach
- Cool Jerk [The Fiend]
- Hippy Hippy Sheik
- Motorbike Beat
“The Secret of the Shadow” is a frenzied instro theme to the best pulp spy thriller never made in 1966! It’s followed by “Rev Up” which sports a cartoon varispeed intro which must be heard to be believed. The Duane Eddy-esque guitar intro of gifted teen string-twanger Kid Krupa featured vocalist Eugene Reynolds vamping over skidding tire sound fx that eventually slows down to coalesce into the song proper.
“Rock-A-Boom” kicks up the energy level several notches with a “new dance craze” tune sung by Fay riddled with the insanely cheerful Vox organ sound that makes me immensely happy. The brief half-bar keyboard solo following the middle eight sounds like bright [in fact, day-glo] sunshine personified.
Then all bets are off as “Voodoo” cranks the frenetic energy past the legal limits! Rocky Rhythm’s jungle toms pummel the listener while Eugene and Fay careen off the walls with sheer unbridled energy. Just as the listener is about to spontaneously combust, the Shadow Morton pastiche “Bobby Come Back To Me” brings the energy level down to a manageable level. Fay Fife’s pleading vocal captures the feeling perfectly.
Side one closes with “Scuba Boy Bop” wherein the listener is walloped with ridiculous varispeed drum solos by Rocky Rhythm overlaid in Sensurround® for a mind-reeling effect. The flipside commences with “Yeah Yeah,” which [except in title] a cover of the Rock-A-Teens “Woo Hoo.”
“Juke Box Sound” pays homage to the sound of the past that inspired The Revillos and features a heart-tugging solo on guitar by Kid Krupa with a richness of tone far beyond one of his admittedly tender age [19 at the time]. The next track is the ultimate Shadow Morton snuff-rock tearjerker, “On The Beach.” It begins like a minor key siren song that builds to a dramatic crescendo before retreating into the darkness from whence it came.
Two more beat era covers follow with “Hippy Hippy Sheik” and “Cool Jerk,” though on the Australian copy of this album which I have, the latter has been replaced with the B-side “The Fiend” even as all labels and printing indicate otherwise in a mastering error.
The single “Motorbike Beat” closes the album before roaring off into the distance on one of the Indian cycles that Eugene Reynolds often rode. The album is barely 30 minutes long but more fun is packed into its grooves than in a dozen other records one could name. The closest comparison I could make to The Revillos is The B-52s but they lack the avant-garde, Yoko Ono inspired edge of The Bs. They more than make up for it with an equally bent sartorial day-glo, sci-fi flair coupled with more ideas per inch than the Athens band could ever hope to have. I have the occasional B-52s record. I have almost every Revillos record ever pressed!
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