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Monday, 12 March 2012

Record Review - Janey & The Ravemen

Stay Away From Boys
Soundflat CD & LP

Following The Trashbones effort, another debut Soundflat release hotly anticipated by yours truly comes courtesy of Londoners Janey & The Ravemen. The line up reads like a who’s who of fine beat merchants - including founding members of 90s beat combo The Kaisers (George Miller and Johnny Maben) and former Rapiers bassist Brad Dallaston. Hell there’s even Ed and Rosie from new doom-psych and Happening favourites Purson on here! Here is an exceptionally authentic take on classic British beat. No reinvention or innovations were attempted on this LP! It evokes a time where the Joe Meek roster was in charge of the charts and every teenager in Britain seemed to have a copy of Beatles For Sale in their bedroom. ‘63-’64, the glory days of innocent British pop music.

Partially recorded at the analogue Mecca that is Toe Rag Studios, the album contains more covers of hits of the day than Miller originals. Let’s deal with the latter first, for they are first-rate. ‘I’m Gonna Have My Way’ is pure Merseybeat with a perfectly measured, teasing vocal from Janey. ‘I Know’ is the centrepiece ballad, a real beauty, making comparisons to The Hollies or Gerry & The Pacemakers at their chart-bothering artistic peak. ‘I’m Alright’ brought to mind The Roulettes and The Dave Clark Five, whilst ‘She’s A Raver’ ups the tempo and is my favourite cut on here, with it’s Manfred Mann and Fentones qualities (not to mention some fun backing chants and smokin’ harmonica). The title track is the most American-sounding number here, and as a result comes across as a bit cheesy I’m sorry to say!

The numerous covers are expertly done. In fact the playing on this album never deviates from being just the right blend of beat-y energetic spikiness and harmony-rich janglesome restraint. We’re treated to a fine reworking of an old Kaisers song to make ‘He’s Gonna Two Time’, and the bouncy Sandra Berry song ‘Really Gonna Shake’ (with excellent drum runs) was an early favourite on first listen. Also pleasing is the faithfully swinging rendition of ‘It’s So Right’ (The Swinging Blue Jeans), the Honeycombs-recorded Meek classic ‘If You’ve Gotta Pick A Baby’, a not-too-wet take on ‘Snakes, Snails & Puppy Dog Tails’, and finally a sublime go at the Ann-Margret classic ‘I Just Don’t Understand’.

Overall then a fine effort that all beat fans should grab hold of. Playing safe on a debut album with this style of music makes sense, but I’d like to hear more originals on the second LP, as the songwriting is not just 60s style, but 60s quality.

Phil Istine

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