Thee Spivs - Taped Up

by Andy Brown Rating:6.5 Release Date:2010-11-08

Damaged Goods has been putting out quality punk and garage-rock albums since 1988 and has become synonymous with a certain 60s garage-rock sound as well as putting out many an album by their most celebrated and prolific artist Billy Childish (currently working on album two thousand… probably). Thee Spivs are a new signing yet are very much in keeping with the labels aesthetic and history. I mean, even their name immediately brings to mind Thee Headcoats and Thee Mighty Caesars. Thee Spivs list of influences include classic punk and rock acts such as The Adverts, The Clash, Link Wray and The Ramones as well as Mr Childish himself. For better or worse, Thee Spivs never stray too far from this admittedly solid set of inspirations.

So single 'It's True' is all Joe Strummer spit and spray-paint while 'Leave Me Alone' comes on like the kind of song it's compulsory for every young punk band to write with its adolescent cries for a bit of solitude. What Thee Spivs lack in originality, however, they often make up for in raw energy and exuberant enthusiasm. When they pull it off Taped Up is a really fun record and one hell of a party album. 'All Day Long' steals a riff or two from The Kinks and Billy Childish (yes, him again) and is destined to go down well on indie dance-floors across the country. 'Head Hunt' finds them in a particularly evil mood as it lurches and struts into view like a mixture of early Birthday Party and The Pogues' 'Wild Cats of Kilkenny'. It's a great bit of music even if you wish that they'd made more of it than a short instrumental. 'I'm Alive' fizzes with drunken energy while 'Invisible Man' has an undeniably cool swagger. 'Men Don't Cry' is probably the album's highlight with its feedback squall, manic vocals and low moans.

In keeping with their punk influences, nothing goes much over two minutes, which, apart from the occasional tune (the aforementioned 'Head Hunt'), serves the songs well. The only real problem is that, although the album clocks in at just under 30 minutes, you can't help but feel that Taped Up could have shown us a bit more variety. That seems like a strange criticism in some ways considering the kind of record Taped Up is. I mean, I wouldn't expect a foray into Krautrock or orchestral bombast from any of the outfits Billy Childish has been involved in. Yet, where Mr Childish keeps the Damaged Goods style fresh and vital with energy and, above all, fantastic songs, Thee Spivs fall a little short.

None of this is to say that Taped Up isn't a fun and entertaining record - taken for what it is, it's pretty difficult not to enjoy it's Nuggets-esque vibe. Yet for untouchably brilliant garage-rock tunes, you still can't go far wrong with an Ace Records compilation, a Billy Childish album (last mention, I promise) or anything by The Sonics. At the moment Thee Spivs haven't quite lived up to their immaculately cool record collections - here's hoping album number two will change that.

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