Englishman Pip Hancox, front man of psychobilly shit kickers Guana Batz, has
resided for many years in the States and listening to this you can tell. Whilst 'Vegas Lights'
retains the mix of punky sleaze metal and Rockabilly that only the Brits seem to be able to
master, it is sweetened with a generous wash of Americana, signified by a hot sultry desert El
Diablo de la guitarra Gretsch sound..
For his debut project, apparently recorded for some reason in utmost secrecy in the
California desert, Hancox enrolled the help of long-time Guana Batz drummer and stand up
bass player Jonny Bowler, guitarist Gino Meregillano and drummer Alex Pappas (which I
think is the Guana Batz US touring line up). The idea seems to have been to let Pip scratch an
itch or two by revisiting, even recapturing, some of the sounds that inspired the Batz
inception a few decades ago.
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He has pretty much succeeded too with the predominant groove of 'Vegas Lights'
being rooted in the badlands where rockabilly meets psychobilly meets rock 'n' roll. Yet
there is more; the buzz saw metal-lite triumvirate of 'Toxic Twins', 'Sally' and 'Black Door
City', the Jason And The Scorchers country rush of 'Bleed', the thick syrupy quality of the
guitar on 'Shake' that Black Sabbath made their own and the title track is a charming study
on Americana's mid western folk heritage.
The album also boasts an interpretation of Blondie's 'Call Me' which closes the
album. Now, usually such an inclusion would be a mistake but not in this instance as the
quality of Hancox own songs is such that the cover compliments rather than overshadows the
rest of the album.
The vast bulk of 'Vegas Lights' however is built on a foundation of raw rockabilly
together with a considerable measure of metallic hillbilly country grit, with the beefed up
galloping rock 'n' roll tipping its not inconsiderable hat to the greats Presley, Jerry Lee and
Perkins. 'London Streets', the drum led 'Carburettor' instrumental and '7th Daughter', the
mid paced 'Beautiful Creature' and the furious 'Ellinore' all anchor the album to its roots
whilst giving it enough leash to enjoy itself; think Warner E Hodges jamming with Slash and
The Stray Cats.
'Vegas Lights' is a slow burner, a solidly rocking album that will mature with age. It
is a great debut album not least because it retains the grunt of good ol' fashioned rock 'n' roll
that will appeal to most, if not all rockers. Hell, it might even appeal to those that ain't.
This album is not groundbreaking but if the likes of Rocket From The Crypt, The
Reverend Horton Heat and Jim Jones spin yer wheels then 'Vegas Lights' might just do the
same. Enjoy the party.