Ever been struck with nostalgia for a time before you were born? Possibly for a time that may have been mostly pretty mythical anyway? No, I’m not talking about spicing up things in the boudoir by having a quick game of Guinevere and Sir Lances-a-Lot, I’m talking about The Indestructible Sounds Of the Kneejerk Reactions, an album that’s simultaneously from 2013 and fifty years before that. So if you’ll just step this way into my time-travelling garage, folks.
Just slap this fine platter on your turntable, either side upwards, carefully place the needle at the beginning of any track and get ready to frug, like you’ve never frugged before. Kneejerk Reactions have kindly given us twelve slabs of heavy-handed surf-inflected R&B beat busters for our aural delectation and we should thank them for it. This is popular music before it got all arty and progressive, just slap on the driving instrumental ‘Volatile’ and just try not to think of switchblades, go-go dancing babes and night-time surfing as that organ and guitar duel. This is music to soundtrack your next rumble with a zoot-suited crew down on Santa Monica Blvd. Trust me.
Launched at us by the cultural trebuchet that is the ever-reliable Dirty Water Records*, whose proud boast of ‘Taking music backwards into tomorrow’ has never quite seemed so apposite as here, The Indestructible Sounds Of the Kneejerk Reactions is as carefully crafted an object as you could wish for. We get a suitably aged back cover, folds all in place, a wonderfully detailed and hilariously daft band biography in the sleevenotes**, lyrics that are just dumb enough and just clever enough to hit the spot. Add to this some gentlemen who may, or may not be using their given names – Sir Bald, Nasser ‘Camel Toe’ Bouzida … Hmm. It’s all very well done and very amusing but, as with all these things, it would just be a pastiche if they really didn’t rock it hard enough.
They do of course. Just cue up, the brilliantly titled ‘Batgirl, I Love You’, ‘Mover And A Shaker’, ‘Houdini’ and ‘Habenero’, then just make like 1967 never happened. Well, 1967, 1966 and 1965 for that matter; possibly 1964 too, at a push. Some of it sounds like a very pissed off Kinks, some of it like the Trashmen, or Dick Dale if he’d been born in Padstow and quite a lot of it sounds like, bands you’re not sure existed or not, or whether Kneejerk Reactions just capture the perfect essence and elements of a time, attitude and sound. Let’s face it everyone loves ‘Louie Louie’ and rightly so, those chords are the bedrock upon which our entire civilisation rests*^.
If I was being hyper-critical of The Indestructible Sounds Of the Kneejerk Reactions then I might argue that there’s maybe two tracks which don’t quite hit the standards of the rest, but hey I don’t let it bother me because 2 minutes later a better tune comes along. Did I mention that the musicianship is superb yet? Especially Nass Bouzida on the organ. As far as I’m concerned this is music for people who like music, this is music for people who like dancing, this is music for people who like a smile with their music, this is the sort of thing that makes me happy to be here.
Or at least that’s my kneejerk reaction.
*home to 1537-faves MFC Chicken and the Dustaphonics.
**SLEEVENOTES! SLEEVENOTES!! SLEEVENOTES!!! You gotta love sleevenotes. No, that’s not a figure of speech it’s a commandment.
*^I know this because I done gotten a history degree. Those chords weren’t anything to do with Richard Berry, they were in fact given to the ancient pharaohs by the spacemen who ruled Egypt as jackal-headed godlings and who bought cats to our planet.