Leatherface - Razor Blades and Aspirin: 1990-1993

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2015-07-10

Online testimonials to Leatherface range in their praise from the underwhelming ‘Sunderland’s finest’ style of description, to comparing the no-holds-barred punk rockers to AC/DC, with whom some fans believe Leatherface should share the mantle as hard-rock progenitors. Interestingly, Leatherface never really made much of a name outside the United Kingdom, and I certainly wasn’t all that familiar with the material.

Could it be then that Leatherface’s underground legend has been overplayed somewhat, driven by fanboy hyperbole? Well, let the material speak for itself.

The band’s third album, 1991’s Mush, is considered to be something of a classic in hard-rock folklore. So, starting there, Mush is probably as good an example as I’ve heard for a while of powerful and guttural punk rock, driven by excellent lead breaks and pulverising rhythm guitar, led at the front by the gravel voiced Frankie Stubbs spitting blood at critical transfusion levels. Part of Leatherface’s appeal is the apparently boundless nature of Stubbs’s vocal attack, showing a kind of trench warfare commitment to the cause. Every performance a tonsillectomy. 

The pulse of Leatherface’s music is unremitting, the melodic underbelly intact. Hugely entertaining stuff. Not exactly revelatory to my mind, but then a lot of the material is of the same quality as much of the Australian underground rock I grew up with in the mid-to-late 1980s (see Radio Birdman, Cosmic Psychos especially), and is as hearty and familiar as a good old pea and ham soup. For those living elsewhere, kindred references might include Husker Du, Motorhead, Hot Water Music, and The Loved Ones.  

Other albums represented here, Fill Your Boots and Minx, sit on either side of Mush chronologically. Fill Your Boots is frenetic, and doesn’t quite measure up to Mush, being a little one-paced, lacking breathing space between musical ideas. Still, sit this beside any bog ordinaire hard-rocker outfit in 2015, and the comparison will absolutely flatter Leatherface.   

Minx chases the tail of Mush, laying a similar groundwork of melodically based hard-rockers, played loud, fast and skilfully, and again, the engine room is Stubbs’s unerring vocal commitment. There's a host of extras including EPs, b-sides etc, all sitting well aside the album material.

Multi-disc set, Razor Blades and Aspirin is what it says on the box.

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