|Hi-Fi To Die For - Lee Harvey Oswald Band|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Saturday, 25 May 2013 04:00|
Lee Harvey Oswald Band - 'Blastronaut' (Touch & Go Records)
1996 was not a particularly memorable year for rock music as far as I can recall, all my favourite bands seemed to be cutting off their hair or splitting up and it was all getting a bit safe and a bit beige. Nu Metal was on the rise, and Korn were leading the way for bands to use drop tunings and baggy pants. There were exceptions of course, The Wildhearts and Terrorvision were keeping rock alive in the Brit Pop filled UK charts and leading the way for more to come, and it would of course get better. Even though it would be two years before the Backyard Babies brought some excitement back to rock music with the snotty and raw 'Total 13', there were still a few gems to be found if you hunted for them, such as the Hellacopters and Imperial Drag. It seemed to me that music needed a bit of danger to it and that came in the form of the Lee Harvey Oswald Band.
A band that were and still are shrouded in mystery Lee Harvey Oswald Band were a side project put together by Didjits/Gaza Strippers man Rick Sims, this much is known to be true, anything else is just rumours. I don't believe they toured or if they did no one can recall where or when, or if they ever actually saw them. It may well have even been erased from memory or buried deep in the subconscious like some dark secret you want to forget. I remember first reading about them when Ginger from The Wildhearts reviewed the album for Kerrang!, sounding right up my street and Ginger-approved it was an essential purchase in my book. 'Blastronaut' followed the release of an EP and their debut long player, 'A Taste Of Prison', and it was unfortunately to be their swan song.
Featuring Zowie Fenderblast on vocals/guitar, James Meat on vocals/drums/percussion and Dredge on bass/vocals, this band of messed up looking miscreants managed to capture the spirit of '70s punk and glam rock, distil it and spew it all back out in this one album. They looked as fucked up as they sounded, forgotten offspring seemingly grown from the combined DNA of Bolan, Bowie and Johansen. All bad wigs and junk shop threads, and just check out that cool album cover, it just screams out decadence does it not?
'Blastronaut' is an album chock-a-block with stomping Glunk anthems with glorious, unforgettable hooks and sci-fi inspired lyrics. With ripped off Thunders licks and an Iggy Pop sneer Zowie leads his band through 13 tracks of hedonistic rock 'n' roll music, and there is much to enjoy if you take this ride into destruction with them.
Opening with 'The Greatest Man Who Ever Walked The Face Of The Earth', an immediate sounding opener of a song coming on like The Rezillos on speed, before you can blink it's over and into the dark and sludgy glitter anthem 'Surrender Earthlings', a song that not so much tips its hat towards 'Ziggy Stardust' era Bowie, but conquers it, bastardises it and claims it as its own, and this general theme continues for the next 30 minutes or so.
The sublime 'Rocket 69' follows, the opening choppy guitar riff signalling a low slung mash-up of glitter drenched Bowie swagger and the punk pop sensibilities of The Rezillos. The Wildhearts covered it but they couldn't better the original.
The anthems continue with cool titles like 'Easy Amplification' and 'Panic In Hanoi' that are as good as those titles suggest, and who could not be enticed by the slow, sexy grooves created in their cover of The Move's 'Brontosaurus'? Tipping their collective hats to Rocky Horror all camped up with glitter and feather boas blowing in the wind. If a song like 'Morphodite' doesn't give you the insatiable urge to pick up a guitar and jam out that riff, then you must surely be dead inside.
It was a glorious party, it's just a shame they couldn't stick around for the aftershow, but there was probably more worlds to invade and infect with their carnage, that's what I would like to think. In truth is may have had something to do with legal disputes, drugs, lawyers and prison, but when have we ever let the truth tarnish the rock 'n' roll dream? As soon as they appeared they were gone, always destined it seemed to be on a one way trip to oblivion. In their wake they left an album that is raw, dirty and exciting and pretty much an essential specimen of 'Glunk Rock', so get scouring the internet.