It would be a tiny bit of an exaggeration to say that ‘Babylon’ by Faster Pussycat smashed my world off its axis, it certainly altered its’ angle of rotation for a bit though. Tommy Vance played it on the Friday Rock Show; sandwiched inbetween the usual humourless thrashers from Austria, classics and NWOBHM past-its ‘Babylon’ just sounded like a glitter bomb. Already a Def Jam devotee – I sat bolt upright in bed and stopped thinking about girls for about 3 minutes and thought that was exactly the way that rock and rap should be combined, entwined and, umm, sublimned. This was clearly the band that the late 20th Century had been waiting for. Even better none of my friends would ever had heard of them.
I quickly mail ordered the sucker with some of my dish-washing money and on 14 October 1988 I was the proud ownder of Faster Pussycat. Only ever having had a passing acquaintance with proper Hollywood glam rock before that point, I was bowled over sideways – these guys looked damn cool – they wore hats, bangles, eyeliner, silk shirts, leather neck things and you could see guitarist Brent Muscat’s nipples on the back cover. Wow, we were now through the looking-glass. In fact Faster Pussycat quickly became my identity, my brand. I talked them up to all my mates, wore their slightly risque T-shirts and sewed a logo patch on my denim jacket. Looking back, I just wanted to be the first in on something. I must have graffitti’d their name onto school desks a million times in 1988; sorry school.
That I kept a scrap book of clippings from music magazines should not surprise any regular readers, that I kept a separate scrapbook for Faster Pussycat (it was combined with my King’s X one) actually probably won’t surprise anyone either. In fact here’s a page:
Music? oh yes, music. I remember liking it all, particularly the ramshackle nature of the playing – it sounded a lot more human than the Crüe*, they were clearly going to conquer the universe. 25 years later? the first side of the LP gives me a real charge, still. ‘Don’t Change That Song’, ‘Bathroom Wall’, ‘Cathouse’ and the mighty, mighty, mighty ‘Babylon’ all still work for me, maybe on a current of nostalgia, but they still work. I loved the fact it was all so damn sleazy, Faster Pussycat was all about sex on the couch, getting girl’s numbers from bathroom stalls, hot underwear models in dodgy night clubs/bordellos and just sex. Nowadays, after hip-hop got so graphic about such things at around the same time, it all sounds a bit coy and nudge-nudge to me. Taime Downe just sounded so blasé about sex, like he’d actually, you know, done it. Buying into brand Pussycat gave me, I felt, a certain kind of raw, take-it-or-leave-it-babe sexuality by proxy.
Rather fittingly this is a decidedly top heavy LP and the second side contains no gems at all. Listening now I note a couple of songs about how mean LA could be to live in** and Taime Downe’s voice, never the strongest drill in the shed, starts to really grate on me half way through. I do like the rhyme of ‘a bottle in front of me / Is like a frontal lobotomy’ on, umm, ‘Bottle in Front of me’, but I doubt if it wasn’t stolen from somewhere else. I did like all this at the time though. I’ll write about it properly sometime else (don’t worry, by the time I get to 1537, I’ll certainly have covered a few more Faster Pussycat records) but seeing them live in 1989 was a blast- I even got mentioned in the Kerrang! gig review too. So, anyway here were my favourite band all poised to take over the rock world, what could possibly go wrong for them?
GNR of course! in a further 12 months time, I was the only one who still cared about Faster Pussycat anymore. GNR swept them and all other contenders aside contemptuously by, as far as I was concerned, cheating by using such low down dirty tricks as real talent, real charisma, real songwriting abilities, real swearing and real turbo-charged libidinous drug-soaked danger. Ha! Big bunch of fakers, I thought, just you wait until Faster Pussycat’s second LP comes out, then we’ll see who really rules ***.
“They know I can’t move a finger, and I won’t. I’ll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do… suspect me. They’re probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I’m not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching… they’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say …P-P-P-P-Pussycat !!!”. That, reproduced at great expense and effort by me there, was the intro tape when I saw them live – you can, with practice and the right training see where Hitchcock ends and Pussycat begins.
‘Babylon’ is still a great, great track (or did I do that bit already?) and I listen to it, but not the LP, a lot. I love the scratching on the tune by Riki Rachtman, which simply has to be the heaviest and clumsiest of its type ever committed to vinyl. I love the mostly indecipherable but assuredly rude lyrics (and I thank Ginger and the Backyard Babies for covering it in a more easily understood manner) and I love the riff and guitar sound. Not sure if this is a sign of aging, but today I thought, ‘they really don’t make ’em like that anymore’.
*it should be noted that the Def jam version of ‘Walk This way’ aside, the UK had never really had Aerosmith – their 70’s LP’s were’t even in print for a time.
**I assume during those rare fallow periods when nymphomaniac underwear models were in short supply.
*** I wonder whatever happened to GNR? probably all got jobs in a supermarket somewhere in Arkansas by now, wondering what might have been every time they hear ‘Cathouse’ played on the radio. Good job I backed the right horse in that particular contest otherwise I’d have looked pretty damn silly.