CD reissues usually come about for a small number of clear reasons: labels cashing in on niche and cult bands who had piss-poor distribution in their humble beginnings; low-productivity bands who rather than get back in the studio to prove their worth would rather rip fans off with some alternative artwork and a Japanese bonus track or long-defunct acts being milked for all their worth that one last time. But make no mistake, this particular reissue of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats’ debut record Blood Lust cannot be pigeonholed into any of these camps of excuses. It’s simply a marvellous and poignant record that has sold-out (and I’m talkin’ ‘bout the “there ain’t no more copies left” interpretation of “sold out” here). Public demand to hear this immediate classic of an album has simply outstripped all the possible expectations of the label, the fans and even the band themselves, whoever they are. With vinyl copies exchanging hands for up to £700 on Ebay, that 21st century version of a rendezvous in darkened alley with a manila envelope full of notes, the retro masters of cool tunes over at Rise Above have decided to share Mr Acid’s delights with the whole world. Yes, even with those fuckwits at HMV.
Chances are if you’re reading this then you’ve probably already heard some or all of Blood Lust’s cackling amps, its treacle-thick horror narrative and those Witchfinder-exhuming riffs, and yet there are still so many questions surrounding this cryptic coven from Cambridgeshire. Who in the Devil’s moustache are they? How do they manage to sound more like a band from the ‘70s than any band that was actually from the ‘70s? Is he REALLY someone’s Uncle? What are they going to be like when they finally play their first live show later this spring? You won’t find many answers here, but as you slip that Riding-Hood-blood-red (yes, red) disc into your stereo hi-fi or newfangled personal computer contraption, you’re sure to be enchanted again and again by this big bad wolf of boogie doom.
From the bouncy Blue Cheer-esque rhythms of I’ll Cut You Down right through to the monochrome macabre of Withered Hand of Evil, Blood Lust steps you back to a bygone era when horror was not some simple laughable form of late night Channel5 entertainment. The tales of Uncle Acid are horrible and gruesome enough to make you cower in a darkened corner with only a candle and a sinister grin across your chops for company. Supposedly telling the story of a drug crazed sadist who embarks on a witchfinding killing spree before meeting his own demise at the withered hands of Satan. The record at times feels like the soundtrack to some long-lost exploitation horror film, yet it retains a very British feel throughout, with Uncle Acid’s sticky sweet, but strident vocals reminiscent of Robert Plant wailing away in one of his black magic sects, surrounded by pagan nymphs as opium burns in the background.
Away from the mic, mainman Mr Acid also delivers some succulent solos throughout, and his rhythm section is nothing but inspired on the likes of the spindly, yet faster-paced I’m Here To Kill You and the Adams Family elevator music of Curse In The Trees. The crunching Death’s Door allows Kat’s bass and Red’s tender cymbals to lead the way in a ritual march to the grave, as Acid himself swoons sinisterly “this blood lust never ends…” Meanwhile, Over and Over Again and 13 Candles possess the rolling thunder of Witchfinder General and Black Sabbath; the trio’s pawn shoppe instruments battling the great forces of un-earthed electricity to deliver us their wax-dripping spells. Ritual Knife is like a voodoo encryption etched into the side of some ancient dungeon lair, crumbling and decaying to end up sounding like an Ouija board tuning through dozens of hidden psychic planes. Mighty closer Withered Hand of Evil remains arguably the Deadbeats’ finest moment, its huge riff sweeping up demons left, right and centre as the song fades into the dusk. A cinematic mellotron takes the reins from the guitar to sound out Blood Lust like the end to some 1930s hour-long wireless drama special. Bonus track Down To The Fire is a real campfire moment, paying homage to The Lemon Song and Bron-Y-Aur Stomp as it falls into the embers and dies amid morning birdsong.
If you haven’t caught metaphoritus by this point, then I’m sure you’ll join me in agreement that this record strikes a chord closer to the past masters of heavy rock (Budgie, Blue Cheer, Crazy Horse et al) in a way that the likes of Graveyard or Orchid are never quite likely to achieve. One thing I hadn’t previously noticed before paying closer attention was the length of the songs – many top six or seven minutes of bluesy soaked mantras, but such is the level of fun, you’ll not spend a second bored listening to this latest rocket from the retro crypt. With their two debut sold-out nights at the London Underworld to come and a new album (already named as Mind Control) scheduled for a late March release, Uncle Acid’s tales are quickly becoming legends. Not bad for a band who still claims to run an active teletext page…
Scribed by: Pete Green