Friday, 31 July 2009

Every gig I've Ever Seen #31. The Gun Club.

Gun Club Edinburgh Oct 1984

I bought the first Gun Club album based on an NME review. Found a copy in Boots, Andover, same time as the first Cramps album, also bought based on an NME review. Must have had a groovy record buyer at Boots who read the same reviews. Loved both albums. The Gun Club sounded ancient but bang up to date. Savage blues shouting and fierce guitar. The finest psychobilly. “Sex Beat” is a classic. Jeffrey Lee Pierce was the main man. Shock of long dyed blond hair. Other than a few photos we didn’t know what the band looked like.

And here they were playing a naff night club in Edinburgh.

The Hoochie Coochie Club was small, low ceilinged, red velvet, chrome tables with big bouncers in tuxedos and dicky bows. Pay your money at the door and in. Mix of psychobillies, students, Goths and rockers. Band came on late and the audience were baying for it. The stage was about a foot tall with silver tinsel at the back, like a stripper revue. Which it probably was. Tiny, loud, rough sounding PA.  Crowd surged forward. Bouncers pushing everyone back. Gig stopped. No violence as such, just bouncers worried about the band being swamped.

Patricia Morrison was on bass. An Amazon of a woman with red lips, back combed fright wig, leather and studs. Glamorous but hard. Her and Poison Ivy of the Cramps were strong women in a male world. They looked sexy in a 50s B-Movie way but they weren’t there for fluff. They could play. In that sense they’re probably important as feminist Icons. It was OK to feel turned on by them, without the usual “objectification of women” guilt. They were cool.

Jeffrey Lee was cool personified. Ultimately drugs killed him but, then, he was still young and reasonably beautiful. The authentic whiff of the Swamp about him. Dirty slide guitar. Howled lyrics. Big rockabilly beat but demented. Crowd really behind them. Big attack guitar solos mere inches from people’s sweating faces. “Fire On The Mountain” was dynamic, a huge stop-start riff of a song. This was proper hard, heavy Rock. The Pixies learnt a lot from them. American guitars, drenched in the sound of that Continent. From Robert Johnson to Punk. The Smiths? Wimps.

A great band and the missing link between Gene Vincent and The White Stripes. Keef says he wants written on his gravestone: “He passed it on”. Jeffrey Lee did. Legends in my book.

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