Yeah! Yeah! We got some maniacs up front here!
I’m not a massive one for live LPs but I did always like the nonsense singers spout between tracks.
Anyway, I found out yesterday that this internet thing isn’t just for looking at pictures of ladies without any clothes on, who knew that?! If you know where to look and you take the right precautions there is this thing I’ve discovered called the dark vinyl web (or Discogs for short) and (looks around carefully) you can get any LP you want on there – there’s even pictures of albums disporting themselves shamelessly out of their sleeves too. Better even than that though is that, as well as sating lusts you’ve held for records you couldn’t afford 29 years ago, you can stumble across totally new-to-you LPs you didn’t even know by bands you really liked back then.
Which is what happened to me this year with Circus Of Power Still Alive a 1989 live mini LP* that I had absolutely no idea existed. As soon as I stumbled across it I was suddenly clobbered with 29 years worth of yearning as though in some deeply walled-in part of my soul had known of its’ existence all along and was finally free to expel all that pent-up desire in a single silver second of clarity. Having forked out the princely sum of £1.99 it was mine a couple of weeks later^ and I could finally scratch that itch.
And what a great little gnarly nugget it is too. I always really liked Circus Of Power, in amongst all the glamsters and chancers at the arse end of the 80’s rock scene they had something tougher and a little more street about them. They convinced as tattooed brawlers and bikers, unlike some of the other shysters out there back then they never seemed like they were just aping the accessories of the outlaw lifestyle. Still Alive is one tough hombre.
Detroit we got a song for you. What is it? It’s ‘Motor’ for fucking Motor City. It’s ‘Motor’.
Still Alive is a good little relic from the far off historical days of yore, well-recorded without being suspiciously so and it gets over the careless joy of a proper down home rock show.
Circus kick it all off with a cover of Rick Derringer’s ‘Still Alive And Well’ which I didn’t know at all but in CoP’s hands it burns with a gnarled defiance. The band really emphasise the stop start nature of the riff and bring out a certain truculent grooviness in the song and I’m quite a fan of truculent grooviness, it has to be said. They then smack into ‘Motor’ the band really, umm, motoring hard behind singer Alex Mitchell, it’s a better fuller version than the one on Circus Of Power. Ditto their version of ‘Letters Home’, which was the band’s first sign that although they called the streets of NYC home, their musical hearts were really somewhere swampier and more southerly. This version really improves on the studio version, there’s a bit more bite and brio to it, not to mention some proper Southern fried guitaring from Ricky Mahler and Gary Sunshine^^.
You know a white trash queen from somewhere right? She’s that girl you picked up in K-Mart in the lingerie department.
Flip the sucka and we’re extolling the joys of a ‘White Trash Queen’, a much better track than the title makes it sound. The band ride the stop/start groove of it hard and we’re definitely down south again where it’s hotter and stickier ‘Radio singin’ all about ‘Dolly Dagger’ / Sun so hot, gonna make you stagger’.
You got free beer, free tits and free music – I don’t think I ever had that*^
‘Heart Attack’ which seems to be the set closer is the sole disappointment here, the only track that doesn’t sound a bit harder in the flesh, it comes over as a bit lightweight even. So it is for the best that Still Alive chucks in an otherwise unreleased tune**^ called ‘Turn Up The Jams’ after an obligatory bit of stage chat about drinkin’ beer and feelin’ horny. It’s not much of a song but the performance makes it a good fun time for all.
And then with a bit of cheering and a hint of sweaty leather Circus Of Power have left the building. That’s all you need sometimes.
PS: From the Mighty Scrapbooks of Rock – I found this today, a live review from 1989 which does mention Still Alive, so maybe I have always carried this knowledge with me subliminally? it would go some way towards explaining why I can never seem to remember anything remotely useful.
*I do like me a good mini LP, bit of a dying breed these days, sadly. My pet theory is that this is because of the daft prices charged for new vinyl these days, ‘why waste it on half the songs of a normal LP’ any rational person would opine**.
**good job I’m not one of those sick rational freakos.
^the seller contacted me and apologised for an unforeseen 1 week delay, I messaged back that it was fine I had waited 29 years for this record and another week was nothing to me. I’m not quite sure he got it.
^^one time Axl W. Rose collaborator and owner of a name that never fails to make me smile.
*^seriously? you get given all this free at a Circus of Power show? now that’s what I call a rider.
**^still, to my knowledge anywhere else.