My brother and I just loved the Wildhearts (he saw them live, I never did), but we’re not the only fans in our family my mum will happily sing a long to a particular Wildhearts B-side, which I have to say I think is really cool. The track in question is one of the B-sides to Caffeine Bomb. I’m not sure how big a splash they made anywhere else apart from the UK so in brief, The Wildhearts were formed by singer/guitarist Ginger after he was booted out of the Quireboys (UK version) and did some brief time in The Throbs*, gathering together other sleazy reprobates they quickly got a reputation for blistering live shows and quickly became the latest in a long line of ‘Next Big Thing’ on the UK rock scene. I’ve got all their early records so I’ll spare you the whole history now, but think sleazy hard rock with equal dashes of Ramones, Replacements and Cheap Trick in the mix, excellent playing and even better lyrics and you’re pretty much there.
The other thing they were was really prolific, which made such a welcome change from all those constipated big bands I liked with their 3 year LP cycles. Give the Wildhearts 8 hours of studio time and you’d have two EP’s and four spare B-sides guaranteed. Caffeine Bomb was released in 1994 between their debut LP Earth Vs. The Wildhearts and the follow-up P.H.U.Q and features 4 new tracks not on either LP.
The title track hits the road like a seriously turbo-charged punked-out Cheap Trick and is all about the joys of trying to cure that hangover, not one of your casual ‘bit of a bad head and a swirly stomach’ ones, but one of those ones which make you genuinely wish you’d never been born and sincerely promise God / Allah / Jehovah / Lucifer / Jah that if he/she will make it go away, not only will you never drink again but that you will undertake never to let any reincarnation of you taste alcohol again throughout all eternity.
Eyes dried tight gotta get myself together
need a kick-start cocktail, ten per cent coffee
a high-rise family size, guaranteed to cauterize
the little bit of brain I got a-hanging on from last night
This tale of woe is spat out at 100mph and is one of the best tracks the Wildhearts ever did for my money, 2:41 of pure inspired genius.
Next track ‘Girlfriend Clothes’ is a chugging rocker about precisely the sort of creepy bar wildlife all right-thinking people avoid like the plague and even features several seconds of lounge-jazz-style scat singing towards the end of the track. Lyrically, as always, Ginger nails him,
it’s getting late and you’re so
frustrated, four hours and not one bite
old Mrs Palm and her five young daughters is
all you’ll get tonight, right!
grab some friends maybe throw some
insults at some longhair all alone
call him a fag as he goes to meet his girlfriend waiting home.
The last track is ‘And the Bullshit Goes On’, flavoured by more US alternative sounds it’s a tuneful rant aimed at, umm, bull shitters really and features some great riffing late-on, including a blatant steal from ‘My Sharona’.
Possibly best of all, depends on my mood is the classic ‘Shut Your Fucking Mouth and Use Your Fucking Brain’ – my mum’s favourite Wildhearts song and yet another possible funeral song for me in the year 2100**. I think she must have heard my brother playing it over and over again, but she loves it. To be honest the title gives you all you need to know about the song, except how viciously it’s delivered. You know me well enough by now to know that it ticks both my swearing and my short songs boxes admirably. The live version below gives you the right idea, the bassist dislocated his knee early in the show, got a roadie to pop it back in and sat down on a flight case to finish the rest of the set! The Wildhearts were real men!
The studio version has better sound of course, but I do quite like this one. Any novices might also want to check ‘My Baby is a Headfuck’ which features Mick Ronson on slide guitar, possibly his last ever recording – I’m not sure.
They just don’t make ’em like this any more.
*anyone out there in blog land remember, The Language of Thieves & Vagabonds at all? I thought that was a great LP, but I’ve not got around to replacing my cassette yet.
**bring sandwiches, go to the toilet before the service; at this rate it’ll end up being like seeing Springsteen live.