Pop Rivets - Greatest Hits
It's time for a little history lesson. As well as the death of punk, 1978 also saw the birth of a new form of music but one that managed to stay under the radar for many years, despite the NME calling The Pop Rivets "The future kids as the new rock 'n' roll". The Chatham Swamp Rock/Garage Punk movement buried itself away and, if it didn't exactly develop from it's origins, it has in that time managed to attract millions of followers, all over the world including, of course, Jack White who has long championed Billy Childish - the pioneer of the genre, poet and man of too many talents to list here. Which brings us up to date, with the release of this, The Pop Rivets very first album, and what a great title for a debut. Recorded in a bungalow in Herne Bay, The Pop Rivets consist of Billy on vocals with Will Power (guitar) and Little Russ (drums).
Anyone familier with the later output of Billy Childish's various pop/rock enterprises will find no surprises here. It's happy, poppy mod with shades of ska throughout never better illustrated than by the title track, 'Fun in the UK', which begins with a nice little lament by Billy about Beatles Boots and '...the whole new scene' that The Pop Rivets were destined to never become part of. It's slightly reminiscent of something The Toy Dolls might have recorded - its irreverent, naive and plucky. The happy mod chant of 'LambrettaVespaScooter' is another highlight - Billy's squacking vocals reach hitherto unkown levels of mania here.
Which brings us neatly to a low point of the album. Although later albums were to reveal a husky, multi-layered vocal style from Childish, here it's more of an adolescent whine. Not surprising given he was only nineteen or so at the time, but it's very much an acquired taste here and might well prove a bit much for some. It's possible he's just trying to hard. Musically, on the other hand, they don't go out of their way to try anything to hard and, as a result, are the perfect, loose pub-level ska band.
The album itself is quite patchy, but that's only to be expected given the circumstances surrounding the recording of it but there's still much to like about it. Disco Fever is notable for its witty lyrics and disco themed break and Hiprocrite is one of the best songs on the album; bile fueled lyrics backed by a lilting ska flavoured chord sequence. Instantly catchy and memorable. Pins and Needles finishes the album in style, with a speedy anthem that's built to pogo too.
This is a brief, fun album. More of a history lesson than anything else, it'll be a welcome addition to the collection of anyone who likes this sort of thing. Those drawn to it for the Billy Childish connection will find much of interest. Not as blues based as his later work and not as garage punk based as his current work, it's a strange sort of mix of pop and ska that doesn't quite hold together but is interesting and worthy of a listen nonetheless. It's not one you'll come back to very often, though.
Read about The Pop Rivets final release MT Sounds From Anarchy Ranch.
More information from the Damaged Goods Website.