Friday, 26 August 2016

"Cross Cuts" by THE (COUNT) BISHOPS (2005 Ace/Chiswick 'Hip Pocket' CD Reissue/Remaster In Card Repro Artwork) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...I Want Candy..." 

I hate the way some great bands just kind of get sidelined - chucked in the pile marked 'interesting' but not quite Carling. The Count Bishops have always seemed to fit that bill. But I'd argue that like The Sex Pistols - they burned 'so' brightly for a short period of time - leaving behind a staggering legacy we're still feeling in (Hot) August 2016. That and they were blindingly great fun...

Riding on the 1975 shirt-tails of other dynamic retro R 'n' B Pub Rock bands like Dr. Feelgood and Ducks Deluxe - THE COUNT BISHOPS inaugurating the wonderful Chiswick Label with their incendiary "Speedball" EP in November of that year (Chiswick SW 1) - four storming cover versions that like the Lee Brilleaux/Wilko Johnson Dr. Feelgood's invasion of out hearts in 1975 and 1976 - felt new and fresh.

For me their April 1977 debut album "The Count Bishops" on Chiswick WIK 1 (the label's first LP) straddles that divide between Punk and New Wave. The Dutch album "Good Gear" followed on the Dynamo label and a further Chiswick 10" Mini-LP now trading as simply The Bishops - "The Bishops Live At The Roundhouse" in April 1978 on Chiswick CH 7. Which brings us to their forgotten and unfairly forlorn (too many f's baby) "Cross Cuts" album from 1979 - their last studio set released just after Zenon De Fleur's horrible loss in a car crash (March 1979) – just when the band was poised to make a real breakthrough with the their fantastic cover of "I Want Candy".

And that's where this fab and dinky Ace records 'Hip Pocket' CD reissue/remaster comes storming in. Here are the speedy details...

UK released June 2005 - "Cross Cuts" by THE BISHOPS on Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 256 (Barcode 029667425629) is part of Ace's 'Hip Pocket' CD Reissue Series (see list below) and is a straightforward CD transfer of their 14-track 1979 album in a Card Sleeve Repro and plays out as follows (37:13 minutes):

1. I Take What I Want
2. Could You Would You
3. What's Your Number
4. Your Daddy Don't Mind
5. Good Times
6. Too Much, Too Soon
7. Rolling Man
8. I Want Candy [Side 2]
9.  Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight
10. Hands On The Wheel
11. Don't Start Me Talking
12. These Arms Of Mine
13. No Lies
14. Mr. Jones
Tracks 1 to 14 are their 4th and final album "Cross Cuts" - released June 1979 in the UK on Chiswick CWK 3009 (no US release).

THE BISHOPS were:
DAVE TICE – Lead Vocals and Harmonica
ZENON DE FLEUR (real name Zenon Hierowski) – Guitars and Backing Vocals
PAT McMULLAN – Bass
PAUL BALBI – Drums

Admittedly the card sleeve isn't much to get your knickers in a knot about – much like the rather dull album artwork of the original LP. In fact the reduced details on the rear cover are nigh on impossible to read – but all that pales once you clap your tired lugs on the NICK ROBBINS Remaster which goes for the ballsack and pretty much stays there. This album sounds alive and fresh again...

Opening with a cover of a Stax hit "I Take What I Want" written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter for Sam and Dave (Stax S-175 in August 1965) – they decide to do with the song what Rory Gallagher did in October 1975 on his first album for Chrysalis Records "Against The Grain" – rock it out. This time they're more Wilko Johnson that Mississippi Delta slide. "Could You Would You" is an old Van Morrison Them song from their second platter "Them Again" in 1968 that American street charmer Willy DeVille covered for his 1988 "Miracle" album. In fact I'd swear naughty Willy lifted the Bishops' slightly Latin treatment of it wholesale for his DDD version with Mark Knopfler on Guitar. After that brief pace let up - we pop some not-fat speed and launch straight into Dave Rice's fantastic rocker "What's Your Number" which sounds like Lee Brilleaux fronting Dr. Feelgood with everything ramped to 13 on a 12-gauge speed dial. Dig that growling vocal, those riffing guitars and cool harmonica. Dave Rice and Zenon De Fleur contributed the wickedly infectious slide guitar boogie of "Your Daddy Don't Mind" where the boys convince us that pops won't mind if his daughter stays out late tonight. Both Cliff Bennett and The Easybeats had a go at Harry Vanda and George Young's bopper "Good Times" in 1968 on United Artists and Parlophone Records respectively. The Bishops keep their cover tight but choppy - piano rolls punctuating a great backbeat whilst having one eye on the single's market. But far better is an original from Dave Rice and Drummer Paul Balbi - the brilliant rocker "Too Much, Too Soon" - the kind of boogie blast that crosses Rock 'n' Roll and New Wave with ease (what a 45 this would have made). Side 1 ends with a superb Zenon De Fleur slide-guitar chugger - "Rolling Man" - the kind of beast that hooks you right from the get go and keeps you there with great guitar and crafty Harmonica hooks.

Side 2 opens with the fabulous raucous riffage of "I Want Candy" - originally a hit for The Strangeloves on Bang B-501 in May 1965 - though it's safe to say that most young men remember lusting after Annabella Lwin in Bow Wow Wow when they covered it in 1982 on RCA Records. The Bishops get that 60ts anarchy just right - a superb update of a neglected monster (I still have my 6" sized 45 with its picture sleeve on Chiswick 6 CHIS 101). That's followed by bizarre-covers ahoy - the Bishops going after a totally forgotten Fleetwood Mac song delightfully called "Someone's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight" - a non-album B-side to "Man Of The World" on Immediate IM 080 in April 1969 (written by one of the band's guitarists Jeremy Spencer). It's drunken violence suits their 'get them out of their seats' Pub Rock attack. "Hands On The Wheel" is another quality rocker from Dave Rice and Zenon De Fleur while their signifying cover of the Sonny Boy Williamson Chess nugget "Don't Start Me Talking" has been done by everybody from Etta James, Dr. Feelgood and Mountain's Leslie West. The boys then discover their inner Stax by covering Otis Redding's hurting "These Arms Of Mine" - but things return to normal with Rice and De Fleur's "No Lies" - an almost poppy Nick Lowe tune. This excellent album ends with a cover of John Loudermilk's witty and saucy "Mr. Jones" which Chiswick tried as a British 45 in May 1979 (Chiswick CHIS 1111) but it didn't take.  

Given the strength of their material and especially their formidable live reputation as a band that slaughtered all put before them - it seems inexplicable to me even now that THE BISHOPS never charted anything - 45 or LP - drowned out by Punk and bigger New Wave names. Dull artwork - bad timing - cruel breaks - whatever it was - I think its time to reappraise. Like The Feelgoods, The Clash, The Pistols and The Damned – The Bishops lit up our world and I will always love them for that.

"I Want Candy" they sang in 1979. Well (pun intended) count me in...

Titles in Ace Records Mid-Price 'Hip Pocket' CD Series are:

1. DONALD AUSTIN – Crazy Legs (Ace/Westbound CDHP 016, Dec 2006)
2. THE BISHOPS – Cross Cuts (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 256, June 2005)
3. HADDA BROOKS – Femme Fatale (Ace CDCHM 1129, Nov 2006)
4. THE CHAMPS – Go, Champs, Go! (Ace CDCHM 1126, Sep 2006)
5. THE DAMNED – Machine Gun Etiquette (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 027, July 2007)
6. THE ESCALATORS [ex Meteors] – Moving Staircases (Ace CDHP 017, Dec 2006)
7. THE EVERLY BROTHERS – The Everly Brothers (Ace CDCHM 1127, Sep 2006)
8. FUNKADELIC – Maggot Brain (Ace/Westbound CDHP 030, Aug 2007)
9. CHUCK HIGGINS – Pachucko Hop (Ace CDHP 024, April 2007)
10. B. B. KING – The Jungle (Ace/Kent CDHP 031, Nov 2007)
11. JOHNNY MOPED – Cycledelic (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 029, Oct 2007)
12. JACKIE LEE – The Duck (Ace/Kent CDHP 032, Dec 2010)
13. LONNIE MACK – The Wham Of That Memphis Man! (Ace CDCHM 1134, Nov 2006)
14. MOTORHEAD – Motorhead [1977 Debut LP] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 021, Oct 2007)
15. THE OLYMPICS – Something Old, Something New (Ace/Kent CDHP 018, Dec 2006)
16. THE RADIO STARS – Songs For Swinging Lovers (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 5, June 2006)
17. THE SONICS – Here Are The Sonics! (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 022, Feb 2007)
18. THE SONICS – The Sonics Boom (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 023, April 2007)
19. ROOSEVELT SYKES [aka 'The Honeydripper'] – Sings The Blues (Ace CDCHM 1132, Nov 2006)
20. VARIOUS – For Dancers Only [Kent's 1st Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 019, Feb 2007)
21. VARIOUS – For Dancers Also [Kent's 2nd Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 020, April 2007)
22. VARIOUS – Hollywood Rock 'n' Roll [80ts Rockabilly compilation] (Ace CDHP 026, July 2007)
23. VARIOUS – Fool's Gold [70ts Punk compilation] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 028, August 2007)
24. LINK WRAY – Early Recordings (Ace/Chiswick CDCHM 6, June 2006
25. THE ZOMBIES – Odyssey And Oracle (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 025, June 2007)

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