HELIUM-3 / INFECTIOUS MUSIC / BMG 26th March 2021
Pure raucous rock and roll played by a band operating at an intuitive level of competence. Recorded live at the 100 Club on Oxford Road, this captures ten slices of a gig in front of a deafened and enthusiastic crowd. Stomping up five Beatles songs, some early Rolling Stones, Them, Cream and The Who, this is crunching sixties beat classics played loud and live.
With members of The Last Shadow Puppets, Blur, Muse and The Zutons, it is an all-star band and, for me, the involvement of Graham Coxon and his spiky guitar in anything is always promising. Formed to play a birthday set of Beatles songs, the project grew as the band found it fun and it’s great to hear the band give an idea of what these songs would have sounded like fresh on stage without screaming moptop idolators. As the Beatles looped back to simplicity at the end of their career, we get to hear live versions of late-period songs that never got taken to the stage, like Hey Bulldog and Back In The USSR. This was recorded at the end of 2019, released as a limited edition vinyl LP for charity and now gets a wider airing.
My Generation is a terrific thrash and the scatter-shot drums of the original are nicely covered, while Gloria is more garage stomp with Van than Patti Smith’s arthouse punk. Paint It Black is nice, as is Sunshine Of Your Love but the centrepiece really is The Beatles quintet, dispatched without undue reverence and with Helter Skelter collapsing into feedback before rising again and ending the set in a pile of rubble.
The album is basically your local pub band made up of experienced rock stars on their day off, having fun with their friends.