Feel adrenaline it's burning 
When you taste blood It's just a warning 
On your marks! Get set! Everybody ready!

That’s how you start an album! None of your shiteing around here.  Let’s just accelerate right out of the gate in a big bright yellow rock muscle car, stereo blaring heading towards Valhalla, a showdown with local law enforcement, or just to Burger King – whichever comes first.  Flame on! Flame out!

Welcome to Backyard Babies Stockholm Syndrome, released to an undeserving world in 2003 and easily one of my favourite rock LP’s of the 00’s*.   On their mighty fourth LP Backyard Babies execute a perfect hard rock storm, executing a scorched earth and scorched nostril approach that was remarkable even amongst the fabulously high standards of their Scandinavian peers of the time. 

Oh and it may be time to post some kind of objectivity warning: there ain’t none.  I just lap up this ridiculous cocktail of tough melodic sleaze rock and punk attitude by the bucketful.  All I need to hear is lead guitarist Dregen unleashing one of his short, sharp solos and I’m gone, daddy, gone. 

Case in point is opener ‘Everybody Ready?!’ which does scorch out of the blocks like their compatriots the Hives on a G’N’R bender, just the sort of tune I daren’t play in the car.  Sure, it’s daft as hell but isn’t that the whole knowing pantomime point of rock and metal? it is all inherently ridiculous and we just have to glory in the power and the gory whilst shaking our long locks free and proud**.

Stockholm Syndrome just slaps us with one great hit after another, ‘Earn The Crown’, ‘A Song For The Outcast’, ‘Minus Celsius’ and ‘Pigs For Swine’ all fly past, pleasantly hooky and gritty before you even notice.  Each and every one a winner.  Trust me, I’m a doctor^, just hook this up into your vein:

Come on, it’s perfect , as is lead guitarist Dregen; I mean is it actually physically possible to sling a guitar lower? the solo is absolutely bang on, short, tuneful and simple.  If I was in a band every single video I ever did would be set on a roof. Fact.

The playing is all on the money.  Drummer Peder Carlsson hits a bit harder and straighter than most sleaze-os and I like the scaffolding it sets for everything else here. 

Side 2 opener ‘One Sound’ changes the pace down a little and adds a heavier vibe into the mix to great effect.  The production on this one by Joe Barresi is great too.  ‘Say When’ is the sole weak spot on Stockholm Syndrome for me, I mean it’s okay – but in this company that equates to a massive drop in quality; a backwards step that is redeemed instantly by the vicious ‘Year By Year’. 

The next track ‘Friends’ is JUST FUCKING FUCKING FUCKING BRILLIANT!!! No, really, I mean it.  A great stomping rootsy rocker^^, simple and catchy as hell where the Backyard Babies invited a load of their, umm, amigos to write a verse each and sing it, so we get alternate verses from:

  • Michael Monroe
  • Joey Ramone
  • Danko Jones
  • Tyla
  • Nina Persson
  • Kory Clarke

What a fabulous guest list/aftershow party right there! And those are just the folk who get to sing one^*.  It somehow contrives to be a brilliantly cohesive tune too, Tyla true to form even injects some trademark bittersweet into the mix ‘There’s a girl that I love / Sadly she resides in Heaven up above’.  Bless him.  But don’t just take my word for it:

‘I know a man back in Japan / Backyard Babies is his favourite band’

‘Be Myself and I’ rattles past like an express train after that and we are done hurtling into the bitter ‘You Tell Me You Love Me You Lie’; a song that I just itch to punctuate correctly.  The latter is fine but not much of a climax for an album this good – the CD bonus track ‘Shut The Fuck Up’ would have been a far better choice, but hey, ho. 

In a just and righteous world Stockholm Syndrome would have seen Backyard Babies breaking through to the same fame levels as late period Wyld Stallyns.  It smashes past any rock I can think of released out of North America in that era.  It is quite simply a really good listen, Backyard Babies mixing up their potent brew of spite and melody just right to hold you captive in a way you could get to like …. oh.

948 Down. 

*I really don’t like the term ‘the noughties’ but I’m struggling for a better one.

**even if said locks have been entirely metaphorical since the mid-90’s.   

^in a sort of ‘enthusiastic unqualified amateur’ way. 

^^think Gaslight Anthem without the OTT nostalgia.  

^*an eclectic mix of all of L7, Sami Yaffa, most of the Dictators, hip-hoppers Infinite Mass, one of the Dwarves and Turbonegro to name a few. 

17 thoughts on “Are Friends Eclectic?

  1. I’m with you all the way here. Well, almost… I think the album tails off a wee bit in its urgency and intensity, but I’m familiar with the CD version and there are a couple of extra tracks on that by the looks of things (CD has 13 or 14 I think – though I might be wrong). Also, I kinda like Say When… not the weakest track here for me, though I get that it’s a bit of a shift in intensity. But aye, Shut the Fuck Up is pretty much essential.

    I saw them around 2000 or 2001… around the time of Making Enemies is Good… they were magic. Pure rock n’ roll riot.

    Anyhoo, you’ve got me wanting to listen to this (and I’ll do so right after I’ve finished listening to Lanegan) and wishing that I had it on vinyl (I remember looking for it a year or so ago online and it was a bit too rich). Anyhoo, excellent work on an excellent album.

    1. Wow, I’m so jealous you saw them. I own this and Total 13 on vinyl. Dregen is just so cool, his solo LP is supposed to be really good too.

      I got this for £12 new in my local cheapo shop – I literally snatched it out of the rack and held it very close the whole time I was in there, just to protect it.

      Were they the headliner, or support for someone?

      1. Not often you spot a good record for £12 these days, eh? I’d have snatched this one, too… belter.

        It was part of the Leeds Festival, I think Buckcherry took the stage after them. Again, they were great (I also saw them at the Cathouse in Glasgow around the time of their debut and thought they were outstanding).

      1. I just watched a doc calling ‘Chasing The Moon’. The 60s astronauts were wearing the “Wow just wow” space suits and the wives were wearing yours and Sly’s halters.

    1. I’m re-reading Michael Herr’s Dispatches at the moment – maybe I’m a Lurp?

      (this will mean noting if you haven’t read it, I now realise).

      1. It’s been 19 years since I read it and it is just freaking amazing. You need to blast period appropriate music all the time you’re reading though.

        Do it Neil!

      2. Okay just bought it going to give it another read, this and the Forever War and 1968 by Joe Haldeman influenced my thoughts on war in general but Vietnam specifically.

      3. There is a slight problem in that Vietnam will always be seen as a ‘cool’ war by later generations because it just had an amazing soundtrack and it was fought by that generation who were experiencing that music for the first time. Herr writes amazingly well about all the music out there.

        WW2 was a bit rubbish on the sounds front.

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