On the surface, there's an awful lot to like about The Surgens. Their album cover, for instance, features arguably one of the tackiest pictures of a model posing in her underwear we've ever seen, and they have a member whose instrumental credits include saw, washboard and megaphone. His name is listed on the sleeve as one 'Reverend Scat Cockroach'. Brilliant.
But this also serves as a warning: we might be in comedy band territory here, folks. These guys are wacky. Thankfully, spinning the disc allays those fears as gnarled, old-school rock'n'roll, coloured by the blues and garage, leaps from the speakers. It's a style that seems to be undergoing something of a resurgence of late.
Still, unlike some of the genre's more serious imitators, The Surgens sing the blues with a knowing wink. Solos are over-the-top widdly, and most of them could easily have been lifted direct from a Tarantino score. 'Drunken Lover Blues' is one exception, and would fit better on a comedy soundtrack. Carry On, for instance.
Vocalist Hanky Dog (!) would clearly love to be Captain Beefheart - wouldn't we all - but settles instead for sounding like the kind of country-blues singer you'll find murdering (and lowering) the standards at any Butlins resort on any given day of the week.
As far as songs are concerned, The Surgens are happy to mine the seam discussed above for the duration of Misadventures Of A Broken Man's 11 tracks, with little deviation but plenty of plagiarism. For all their lack of pretension, it's impossible to mask the fact we've already heard pretty much everything The Surgens have to offer many times before.
'The Fool' isn't so much a Beefheart pastiche as a wholesale rip-off of Van Vliet's 'Yellow Brick Road' from the peerless Safe As Milk. 'Miss T'. meanwhile, is boogie-blues of the most predictable kind, while 'Reefer Madness' (the title alone is enough to damn it) is an instrumental of the most perfunctory, unnecessary kind.
Misadventures Of A Broken Man, then: plenty to like on the surface, but little of musical merit - and certainly nothing original - lying beneath. Go and listen to the similarly kooky, but infinitely better, Scaramanga Six instead if this sounds like it might be up your stylistic street.
5Rob Webb's Score