After building up something of a reputation on the London live music scene, neo-rockabilly upstarts The Sly Persuaders are about to release their debut self-titled album, unleashing their brand of Gun Club / Bad Seeds / Cramps infused psych tinged rockabilly-garage onto an unsuspecting world. Decamping to the Music Complex in Deptford, frontman Chris Blake and engineer Chris Mansell were tasked with bringing the energy of the bands formidable live show onto record. Almost wholly, they managed it.
Opening track ‘Wild for the night’ sets the mood for the record – seering guitar lines, dark, almost gothy sounding vocals, propelled on by a rhythm section that never lets the energy sap, it’s (when everything is stripped away) a glorious little slice of singalong (shoutalong) pop music. Love and Steve McQueen, the two tracks which follow the opener, keep the guitars muscular aggression of the opener, along with scything bluesy solos, but throw in a healthy dose of psych, with washes of guitars, and (espeecially on the latter) splashes of Doors like organ.
Hey Faustus! adds in some glam rock stomp, as well as some nifty slide guitar work, while there’s a sense of the theatrical/mock horror of (don’t laugh when I say this) The Fall (that bassline at the beginning, right..?) and, more especially, The Damned in ‘Fool’, before it descends into this blistered, scuffed up Cowboy film vibe – as if cowboys could get drugs like that. Indeed, Blake’s vocal has something of the Vanian about it on occasion.
TFD falls into the familiar pattern now of swathes of organ and psych intentions, fighting against this sort of ingrained garage rock for the prize of grabbing your ears attention from the melodic offerings set down before you. Beyond the Rope, albeit briefly, takes its foot off the pedal, before serving up this woozy Cramps-a-thon, but it can’t sustain it, getting all edgy and thick with reverb despite its more relaxed tempo.
Watch and learn steps things up, this noisey, anxious slab of garage, Blake at his most insistent, almost ordering the listener, while the guitars are just drenched in echo that creates this seemingly unsurmountable wall of sound that drapes over everything. Album closer Gun to the Head is the most straight up psych record amongst the set, and The Sly Persuaders leave nothing back in on the training ground, throwing kitchen sink amounts of swirling guitars, echo, and this motorik drum into the mix. It’s frankly quite brilliant.
It seems like The Sly Persuaders have taken the bits they like of their favourite bands, and blended them into something something personal. Over the course of the nine songs, they trip through pych, rockabilly, garage, glam and rock, with nods towards americana, goth and punk along the way. Luckily, they seem to have had a peerless record collection, and have wrapped their sound round some seriously catchy pop records. It makes for something thats very good indeed.