I see John Spencer every Summer. Working for a fairground, I expect the usual ‘pikey’/’carney’ taunts, but not from the self-proclaimed demagogue of the rocky roll. Basted like a Turkey, this is Heavy Trash. Heavy meat is a waste of your cash, Johnny Flash. (Gash!)
In the Ascot racecourse showrooms there is an annual fair for those obsessed with the biggest clichés of Americana when it’s caught up in bi-nation transit. Dollar hogging arcade machines, roots rock rebels with shark fin haircuts, George ogre-Mayers, the King/Queen weekend Harley riders; and a whole load of sweet cars that you do just literally ache for. Red-X’d summer shirts for the girls; Levi’s and black-haired boys. James Dean’s Sapphic cousin, the barn-dance scene that was deleted ad infinitum from Tarantino’s ‘True Romance’. That kinda Jivin’roll; the homecome patrons in full fancy dress, sorta like a portal until you’re asked to man the Bouncy Castle that the Rck’n’Rllr’s kids adore per absolut. They keep on throwing those balls outside and you’re gonna have to repeat that McCain Microchips ad; forever in audio purgatory along with the Kingsmen. “Amen!” Cotcha. Blah. GO. Ya Wha? Rinse.
Tucked away at the back along with the newer and older stuff is John Spencer. Chucking looks my brazen way like I’m, for once, the one caught in a time-locked zone of self-mockery and pathetironic roots betrayal. Descendents are sold off for 90p a uber-shiny tape at his modest stall, which flashes in exactly the same defiant way as them dodgems and them penny-slots at John Carters do. There’s a tonne of girls standing round him, ‘till they get a thirst or hunger to quench and breeze off to the English tea room down the road. Or the bakery, where they make a roaring trade this weekend in bacon rolls. Gotcha, barn-ho’s, so now you have to buy me a drink or two on the Kink’s village green. Deal dealt.
The album could be summed up in the description of one song; a song that could be rather good; would be rather good…in 1950. Trademarks: sex-heavy caterwauling, mainstream Gene Vincent rip-offs that the River City Rebels put best: ‘Shoulda been aborted’. ‘Wild Haired Rider’ harks to the Hells Angels backlog that apparently inspires this collection of jukebox counterfeits; this is Elvis without the sparkle in his igno-arrogant Southern eyes, outrage without the rage, a point without a purpose. A push without the thrust; if you can see the lines on my ceiling.
It’s almost too easy to laugh at him. I’m almost monumentally sorry, but what’s the point of having respect for staid garage rock that bleats about fine, gone little girls and howls like a straight up runt dog, when the very point of its existence betrays the past that brought it here? It’s like Casanova’s son’s celibacy. You gotta push the line going further, anything else would just be selfish. Or (gaspgas) self-indulgent. This album isn’t a patch on the stop-start madness of the JSBX or my beloved Hunches; or even the punka-psychobilly of Tiger Army, which at least sounds in the same postcode as sincere or real or honest. This is almost as contrived as My Chemical Romance. (My) Good Gosh.
You packing up and leaving. It’s time to go; ‘till next year. See ya soon, Buckadilly.
Hold up for me scatterbrain; jus’ wait a sec. Saving point is; it’s a whole lotta fun. Mad fun, actually. Copy-cat strut rock at its nearby-best; ‘cept even at its best it can never hope to match the ArchCardinal drummers it was marching to in the first place. That’s the way of things; there are leaders and followers. Here, John Spencer and his double-bass picking buddy are leading the followers, but there is a certain futile grace in it. Kinda pale-bluesy. If it rains, it could be acute. Songs like ‘Walking Bum’ help to alleviate these graces though, so by my non-ensconced reckoning this record deserves a brutally garrisoned…..