Buff Medways - Steady The Buffs
Or, to give them their full title, Wild Billy Childish and the Buff Medway’s Fanciers Association (Buff Medway being a certain form of a chicken) this is album number 100 from the legendary Billy Childish. And it is a cracking album, and no mistake. Low-fi is the key word here, and it sounds not so much produced, as held together with gaffa tape and groaning under the weight of Billy’s manic guitar and passionate delivery.
Opener ‘Troubled Mind’ is the great top ten single that never was, and if there was any justice in the music world, it would still be number one now. It’s a fuzzy, rock ‘n’ roll tune of the type that you thought they didn’t make any more. About Three scuzzy chords worth of pure magic that pretty much sets the rest of the album up. This is garage rock 'n' roll of the type and quality that the likes of The White Stripes or The Strokes could only dream of creating.
There's a timeless quality to this album. 'Strange Kind Of Happiness' could have been recorded at any time since 1965 and has an odd psychedelic tint to it that will delight anyone who professes a liking for The Who or Love or any number of bands of this era. 'Time's Up' is a dark and brooding ode to hopelessness; "I woke up today with the living dead/I got a bogey on my cheek and fifteen quid" sings Billy, and it's sung from the heart. "Looking in the ashtray/for a fag/A million matches/It looks so sad" and you know he's been here and this is no idle lyric.
The thing that separates The Buff Medways, and this album, from its peers is its honesty. From the bouncy, but lyrically bleak, 'Sally Sensation' to the punk 'You Piss Me Off'; from the traditional blues riff of 'Well, Well' to the barnstorming cover of The Kinks 'Misty Water' the Buffs always play it from the heart and with a refreshing lack of irony. That's because it's the only way they know how, and the world is a richer place for it. You owe it to yourself to buy this album.