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This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… The Sting Rays April 11, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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I’d love to say I was listening to seminal UK psychobilly band The Sting Rays [well, in truth there were three or so bands sharing that name, but this is this Sting Rays] way back when in the early 1980s. But truth is I wasn’t. I’d vaguely seen their name back in the day on psychobilly/garage compilations, but the first time I actually listened was around 2003 or so when someone passed me a ripped CD of some of their EPs. Which is hardly unsurprising since a compilation was released then. And I was never a huge fan of psychobilly. Nothing wrong with it, just wasn’t entirely my cup of tea.

Then again to judge from their lack of a proper AllMusic web entry neither were a lot of other people listening to them. Which is odd, because they were far from unknown.

And good stuff it is too. If you like the Meteors and suchlike… well, you’ll probably not go wrong with this crew. The oddity is that if you like early Primal Scream… or the Monochrome Set… or indeed the Pastels… you’ll probably find something to love too.

Because there’s a funny sort of thing going on here which transcends straight down the line rockabilly and seems to drag in elements of New Wave, early goth and even the Byrds. Sometimes I think I can even hear hints of the Woodentops (not necessarily a good thing in my book). Other times the Violent Femmes (and weren’t they a college band if ever I heard one). I’ve read somewhere that there was some late connection with the Go-Betweens and somehow that doesn’t surprise me.

It is certainly true that they shifted sharpish from the early by the numbers rockabilly/psychobilly/garage thrash of their earliest songs towards something that was much closer to jangle pop. Their greatest release? Perhaps Cryptic and Coffee Time (Kaleidoscope Sound) from 1987 or thereabouts where the merging of the original psychobilly/garage sound and their more janglepop approach worked brilliantly, not least on the song Behind the Beyond (BTW, I notice that Eamonn Carr produced some of their stuff. Small world).

There’s an hint of a political edge to them. The song Joe Strummer’s Wallet is iconoclastic, that’s for sure, although whether aimed at the right target is another matter entirely. Some of the members eventually resurfaced in The Earls of Suave. Which sort of makes sense.

Anyhow, to give you a sense of what they were like here are a couple of tracks (mostly, bar the first one, from the louder end of their range). Note the sartorial garb, very 1960s, very Byrds like, in the last couple which gives some indication of the eclectic mix and match of the sound of the group. I think they’re great. And I once had a haircut not a million miles from there – purely unintentionally… that was not quite so great.

Don’t Break Down

I Want my Woman

Come On Kid

Go Ask Alice

Comments»

1. This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… Bad Karma Beckons « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - December 4, 2010

[…] here’s another psychobilly/garage band which we’ve covered in this series with an Eamonn Carr […]

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2. stefan nicholls - June 28, 2011

there has never been a replacement or a band that has the same lisping vocals like the rays. sorely miss them for their real lyrics not some shit about zombies and werewolfs dressed in dead mans clothes

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WorldbyStorm - June 28, 2011

That’s a fair point. They did have a more realistic focus in their music/lyrics than other bands of their general sort.

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