One day I was bored, so I logged on to Amazon and started pounding the names of bands I was into during the mid-80s into the search function, to see if any of them had CDs available to replace my knackered scratchy vinyl. I tapped out 'The Stingrays', the only band to leave a lasting impression on me from my (not brief enough) dalliance with the psyhobilly/trash scene. I discovered this gorgeous gem from a long-forgotten corner of the UK post-punk era was available, and ordered it immediately.
As a compillation of the Stingrays early work, it's fairly comprehensive. Most of their best tracks are present ('Dinosaurs' L.P, 'Bananamen' and 'Self Destruct' E.Ps, 'Escalator' single), displaying the fine musical and song-writing talents of the individual band members, enhanced (in my opinion) by the lack of coherence (perhaps even chaos) that ensued when they played together during gigs and recording. They had a real energy, man. These songs often have a political message to them, unlike the normal par-for-the course 'going to the drive-in with my girl in my pink Caddy and getting attacked by a zombie who drank my blood' theme. The message is often 'be true to yourself, don't be a conforming sheep', which certainly describes the Stingrays within the psychobilly genre with which they were often grouped. For those of you that may be familiar with the last evolution of the Stingrays, the 'Cryptic and Coffee Time' LP, high points are a bit thin on the ground for you, although the 'Behind the Beyond' tracks are included (albeit unreleased demos with not so much psychedelic content) Special mention has to go to four particular tracks for me. 'Come On Kid' and 'Dinosaurs' were the two tracks that if played when I was out, would always have me shooting on to the dancefloor with my arse on fire ready to rip someones head off. 'Dinosaurs' has the most frenzy-inducing double base solo on it I have ever heard, along with the theme from Stingray played backwards at the beginning. 'June Rhyme' was their most polished single, with a real compulsive riff, and 'Joe Strummers Wallet' with a strong message (as well as an excellent title) about the worshipping of false icons. However, it's not perfect; two of my favourite tracks are missing ( 'Blue Girl' and 'Love' )
For those of you familiar with The Stingrays who want to have their best tracks in a more accessable form this is a must (make your own minds up about if they sound better without all the crackling and hissing of your old vinyl!). For those not familiar with them, but are willing to try something new from a dark corner of mid 80's music history, I recommend this CD. The modern band that reminds me of The Stingrays is probably The Hives, but the Stingrays had more energy, more melody and more to say.