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Various Artists – Portobello Shuffle: A testimonial to Boss Goodman and a tribute to the music of The Deviants and Pink Fairies

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Various Artists: Portobello Shuffle: A testimonial to Boss Goodman and a tribute to the music of The Deviants and Pink Fairies“Bbbbrrrriiinnggg, bbbbbrrrrriiiinngggg. This is Uranus calling Pink Fairies, hurry up and reform and play some shows. We will pay 50,000 intergalactic credits.”

Ok, let’s start from the beginning; you should buy this CD. Not just because the entire royalties go to Boss Goodman, roadie, DJ, producer and chef – and the man who kept The Fairies on the road – but because it has some of the best rock’n’roll songs ever written. Boss suffered a stroke in 2006 and is on the long road to recovery and probably will never work again. So on to the music itself…..

Personally, for me, the disc could not start in a better way. A reformed What a Bunch of Sweeties-era Fairies playing one of their best tunes, the anthemic “Do It.” Ok Paul Rudolph’s voice has changed a bit in the last 35 years since he last performed it, but the spirit of the Fairies is still there. Russell Hunter’s drumming and Sandy’s bass style sound exactly as they did all those years ago, and when Paul’s guitar solo hits in your back in never never land again.

Clark Hutchinson’s version of The Deviants’ “Rambling B(l)ack Transit Blues” takes the song into a slightly sped up pub rock blues territory and away its psychedelic edge. A live version of “Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout” follows. This performed by Pink FA with Nik Turner and Terry Ollis of Hawkwind. This stays true to the original track and feeling as you can almost imagine it’s 1972 all over again, the space rock-sounding middle section serves the song a treat and is one of the highlights of the album. Two separate artist then try their hand at Deviants front man Mick Farren’s solo career by choosing two songs from his Vampires Stole My Lunch Money album. The fact that this album was recorded the year after punk broke shows in both the way these songs are covered. However it’s on Perry, Shaw and Goodway’s version of “Half Price Drinks” where the guitar begins to hint at capturing Larry Wallis’s unique guitar style and pushes it closer to the original song.

Strangely it’s Captain Sensible’s take on “Say You Love Me” that sticks closest to the original song of all the covers on this album. All psychedelic vocals and space guitars its only real difference is that Sensible stumbles over the line “And I couldn’t get high’. Ex Damned members Rat Scabies and Brian James punk up the Fairies “Teenage Rebel” to a two chord tune that could have been recorded in 77. Darryl Read’s version of “Somewhere To Go” takes us right back to the attitude of the Deviants original while at the same time sounding at points like the Gaye Bykers On Acid. Wilko Johnson finds a new wave edge to the Fairies’ “Portobello Shuffle’ and paints all over it with his distinctive guitar style. More interesting is Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby’s take on the Fairies’ old battering ram “I Wish I was a Girl,” stripping it down to the song’s basic elements and away from the guitar and drum barrage of the original.

Farren, Colquhoun and Taylor’s “Baby Pink” is a laid back tune, with some rather subdued playing from the ex-Mötörhead drummer Phil ‘Animal’ Taylor. Jello Biafra improvises on The Deviants’ “Metamorphosis……” with some excellent psychedelic lead guitar from Ralph Spight. Larry Wallis’s “He’s The Boss” is all high energy drum machines and synths and hits its stride when Wallis lets rip on the guitar and makes you forget that the song is rather simple as his notes glide you into the land of bliss. To finish the album Felix Dennis does a jazz/blues version of “Big Boss Man” that brings the album to a jolly close that somehow still fits the Fairies/Deviants ethos. On the whole this is a great fun entertaining record with some interesting versions being realised by most of the artists. So “don’t forget to boogie” and “up the pinks!”

-Gary 93-

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