The City Kids; low down, gruff, n’ dirty, with enough of a smattering of pop-harmonies to ear-worm their way into your head and refuse to leave again. That’s pretty much the TL:DR of the debut album by this rag-tag collection of reprobates, which featured as guests, amongst others, legends like Kory Clarke of Warrior Soul and LA Guns‘ Tracii Guns.
Now, they’re back, to celebrate their second anniversary, with this – a return to their roots, and a clear nod to their formative influences: A four-track EP of Motörhead covers, including – of course – their namesake track ‘City Kids’.
Formed as a ‘let’s get some mates together’ lockdown project by frontman JJ Watt (formally of The Main Grains infamy), and featuring ‘some of your favourite misfits’ including drummer Dave Sanders (Falling Red), bassist Berty Burton (Tigertailz), and guitarist Dennis ‘El Guapo’ Post (Warrior Soul), ‘City Kids’ is almost a teaser for the new album, ‘Filth’, due out later this year. Except it’s much, much more than that; recorded ‘for fun’ for the City Kids (the band)’s 2nd anniversary, alongside the 45 year anniversary of Motorhead (the single, featuring – of course – ‘City Kids’ as the B-Side. Confused yet?). Watt ‘asked some friends to be involved, and to bring the party atmosphere’, and…well, here we are.
And bring the party atmosphere, they certainly did. The title track opens with some snarling, distorted guitar before Watt’s equally snarling and gravelly vocal kicks in, threatening and compelling at the same time; it’s marginally slower than the original, but it benefits from that loucheness by being sleazier and, somehow, more punk, the guitars louder and in-your-face, with additional vocals from The Streetwalkin’ Cheetah’s Frank Meyer and Sanders’ thundering drums powering the track along before Post’s filthy guitar solo takes centre stage.
Second track, the classic ‘Bomber’ is, for me, the stand out track in a very strong field of contenders; Post again takes centre stage, this time with lead vocals, with the guitars here dealt with by Burton’s bandmate Jay Pepper (Tigertailz) and the drums by Warrior Soul’s Ivan Tambec. It’s an absolute stormer of a track, taking the original, giving it a little shake and a dusting of gutter-punk sleaze, and doing that cowboy thing of shoving it hard out of the saloon doors to see who shoots it. It absolutely screams dirt-under-your-fingernails rock n’ roll, all black leather jackets and grubby Converse; it’s tough to ‘own’ a Motörhead track – they’ve all been done so many times – but with this, the City Kids absolutely nail it.
‘Please Don’t Touch’ sounds like more of a breakneck, rambunctious studio jam track, in a very, very good way; like a bunch of mates at the end of rehearsal screaming through a tune everyone knows, just for laughs, and having a damn good time doing so. Featuring the vocals of Ruyter Suys of Nashville Pussy, ‘Please Don’t Touch’ is almost, almost, a duet; call-and-response singing from Suys and Watt, before the whole thing runs away with itself, one step away from total chaos, consumed by Meyer’s piano fills and the dual guest lead guitars of Andy Barrott (The Dukes Of Bordello) and Silverjet’s Dave Kerr. It’s madness, complete genius, and total, good-time fun.
Closer ‘Born To Raise Hell’ is more of the same; total ‘everything louder than everything else’ craziness, Post again singing, this time sharing vocal duties with Meyer and The Supersuckers‘ Eddie Spaghetti, and Meyer also taking charge of lead guitar. The whole EP’s a bit like this, a massive, multi-musician free-for-all, and on ‘Born To Raise Hell’ in particular the whole thing sounds like it’s constantly one wrong note away from total and utter collapse, and it’s all the better for it. This is exactly how rock n’ roll is meant to sound; loud, obnoxious, gritty, dangerous, and like it’s permanently one dirty glance away from getting glassed in the back of the bar. It’s perfect.
To paraphrase someone not a million miles away: ‘If you don’t like The City Kids, you don’t like rock n’ roll’. ‘City Kids’ the EP is (for now, at least) the best the City Kids have ever sounded. Long may it last.
- City Kids
- Please Don’t Touch
- Born To Raise Hell