No False Revillos! The Eerie Story of The Revettes

The REAL Revillos ca. 1980

By the early 90s I had become reliant on mail order to buy all of the records that I had wanted for years, but had never made their way to the backwaters of Central Florida, where I lived. The first two bands that I commenced to building collections of solely through catalogs were The Revillos/The Rezillos and Mari Wilson. Not only were these records hard to come by where I was, they were simply packed with fun! An attribute that made some music more enjoyable. By 1992, I probably had all of the Revillos releases that I knew about [with the exception of the withdrawn “Attack” album]. Of course, the Internet had not happened yet for me, but it was right around the corner. I was probably looking through an issue of Goldmine Magazine in 1993 when I must have seen an ad with 6 point type touring a CD5 by The Revettes called “Love Bug.” Wha…??!!

I already had both of the 7″ singles from the time in 1983-1984 when EMI had signed The Revillos and they had released two singles with that label: “Bitten By A Love Bug” and “Midnight.” Could this be a remake of that tune? Had the band reactivated under a slightly different name? It’s not like this had not previously happened when they switched from The Rezillos to The Revillos to my surprise at the time. It certainly seemed likely that I would need this, so I ordered the CD5 immediately and it got there in a week or two. I would soon find out just what was going on here.

Trident Music International ‎| UK | CD5 | 1993 | REV POP CD 01

The Revettes: Love Bug UK CD5 [1993]

  1. Love Bug
  2. Everybody Back To My Place [+ Party]
  3. Partybug

The disc was… weird. It featured big fat drum machines and scant vocals over the relentless beats. Repetitive sax samples were repeating the same staccato riff, over and over. The Revettes sang “what to do, what to do” several times. Then, a man sang “I took a walk one day and saw that bug was near” with the the first four words being frequently looped afterward as in dance music of the time. Synth bass and a little actual guitar filled out the thin music as best as they could. By the middle of the song some organ fills popped up. But it all sounded as if it were constructed on a capable computer of the time. The CD credited Andy Forsyth for digital editing so this might have been made on a MacIIci with a Digidesign sound card. Maybe with Pro Tools v.1 but maybe Sound Designer instead if they didn’t have deep pockets.

So the track had no other lyrics! It was just a mechanical groove with a little of this and that thrown on top of it to try to liven things up. The vocals were maybe three or four phrases that were recycled throughout the song. Then, as the song was ending, the male sang “I took a walk/what more can I say/I wish I’d turned around/and walked the other way” to completely flummox my expectations by this point. Then it faded and was over. Not impressive, by a long shot.

But “Love Bug,” an eviscerated version of “Bitten By A Love Bug” with most of its flavor removed, was fine art next to the B-side, “Everybody Back To My Place [+ Party].” The robo-beat was almost the same as had been used on the A-side, but the intro was completely stripped down. Until the male vocalist bellowed “everybody back to my place!” in the most lunkheaded fashion possible. Then the femme vocalists chirped in with “p-a-r-r-t-t-y” as the stupid groove continued with further exhortations of the title and the ladies adding some “woah-woahs” here and there. Perhaps the occasional burst of “groovy!” or “g-r-o-o-v-v-y” from les femmes adding to the perfunctory hell of it all. The nadir was the vocal sample of a woman saying “oooooh” that was manipulated to be “ooooooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-oooh-oooh-oooh-oooh-oooh-ooooooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-oooh.” Just like I was used to hearing in the reductive, maddening, dull, soulless, daaaaaaance music of the time! The B-side was an interminable 4:51 next to the succinct 3:33 of “Love Bug.”

Then the killing stroke was delivered with “Partybug;” a full 7:37 megamix of the previous two songs that started off with 1:45 of “Love Bug” with most of “Everybody Back To My Place [+ Party]” crudely spliced into it, only to have the last half of “Love Bug” finish out the ghastly exercise. Brrrrrrr! This was a horrifying release! It was like hearing Zombie Revillos! The band I had known and loved had been thrown into the uncanny valley of dance music being made on a 1992/3 computer with a ruthless hand at the controls. The writing credits for “Love Bug” referenced [Vince] Santini, [Fay] Fire, and [Max] Sewell.

Of course, any Revillos Fan would recognize Vince Santini, the Revillos bass player, or especially Fay Fife, their co-lead vocalist. This release had been produced and arranged by Max Sewell. Who was that? In 1993 I did not know that Max Sewell = Max Atom = Trevor Sewell. This disc had been made by The Revillos 1983 guitar player who had followed the intensely talented Kid Krupa. Once The Revillos had a website, a decade or so later, all was revealed. Here’s the lowdown as recounted on the official Revillos website:

“The song titles and the band name might make this look promising to a Revillos fan but it’s a bit of a let down to say the least. It seems that Max Atom had a copy of the 24-track master recording of the Bitten By A Love Bug single and created this by replacing Fay Fife’s vocals with his and re-recording all the instruments (lots of synth and drum machine) leaving just The Revettes backing vocals.” – As seen here on The Revillos ‘Revilia’ section of their website

Well there we have it. A half-clever attempt to milk some money out of the memory of The Revillos. Well… it worked. I bought one! Too bad it sucked! But that’s not the half of it! When investigating Max Atom/Max Sewell/Trevor Sewell today on Discogs to get the whole sordid tale down coherently, I found this release which was released in Japan four years later!

MIDI Inc. | JPN | CD | 1997 | MDCP 4079

Max Atom & The Atomettes: Shi Ni Gawa Stomp JPN CD [1997]

  1. Devil Went Down To Georgia
  2. In Over Your Head
  3. Lovebug
  4. Rock ‘N’ Roll
  5. Top Of The Pops
  6. One Wish
  7. Waste Of Time
  8. Seventeen
  9. Shi Ni Gawa Stomp
  10. Everybody Back To My Place

Good lord! [choke…] It looks like Trevor/Max was really working that action! He made an entire Max Atom album, possibly from that master tape in his possession, but who knows?! The song titles here don’t look like anything familiar from The Revillos EMI sessions, which finally got a full release in 2004 as “Jungle Of Eyes.”

Captain Oi! ‎| UK | CD | 2003 | AHOY CD226

The Revillos: Jungle Of Eyes UK CD [2003]

  1. Love Bandit
  2. Guilty In The First Degree
  3. The Last One To Know
  4. Bitten By A Love Bug
  5. Midnight
  6. Man Attack
  7. Call Me The Cat
  8. The Vampire Strikes
  9. Trigger Happy Jack
  10. ZX7
  11. Cat Call
  12. Bitten By A Love Bug (Original Single)
  13. Midnight (Original Single)

So I’ll imagine that maybe the songs on the Max Atom CD were not entirely re-purposed Revillos tracks he had played on 14 years earlier. “The Devil Went Down To Georgia??!!” The Charlie Daniels Band tune???!!!!?

My mind is going, Dave.

Other tracks look like covers of Gary Glitter and The Revillos with “Top Of The Pops” making an appearance. At the very least, this ransacking of their legacy in 1993 by a former guitarist was what probably motivated The Revillos to reconvene the next year and work that Japanese market with a multi-pronged comeback that floored me at the time. But that’s another story. Still, it’s telling that after The Revillos got signed to Vinyl Japan [a UK-based, but Japanese owned label] in 1994, Max Atom went to the Japanese nation flogging his Revillos pastiche three years later!

The biggest shocker of all [saved for last, here] is how Trevor Sewell eventually reinvented himself as a blues guitarist, based in America, whose latest album features a duet between himself and Janis Ian [!] on “Fade To Grey!” [no, not THAT “Fade To Grey!”]

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Core Collection, Record Review, Scots Rock, Surviving The 90s and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to No False Revillos! The Eerie Story of The Revettes

  1. Michael says:

    very interesting

    Like

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