Groaning at the terrible punnage of the album cover I had to think carefully whether I really wanted to download and subject myself to this album; of course I couldn’t resist. Even though I haven’t listened to Peter And The Test Tube Babies in years they were one of those bands I cut my teeth to. The Sex Pistols may have brought the fury but the real filth came from these Peacehaven Punks along with The Anti Nowhere League and listening to the likes of ‘Pissed And Proud’ and ‘Journey to the Centre of Johnny Clarke’s Head’ in the 80’s was always great fun even if it did go with a certain sense of danger. I mean my finger was always paused near the stop button on the cassette deck as it could have been awkward having parents walk in whilst listening to songs like ‘Vicars Wank Too’ and ‘The Queen Gives Good Blow Jobs!” Somehow I survived these pre-Viz days without that happening and then Crass and The Poison Girls got on the radar and it all changed but I certainly wanted to know what this lot were like now. Of course the album came along with a well-publicised spat as the band have progressed from being “Banned From The Pubs’ and got themselves booted out of America after mocking el primo oompa-loompa!
After bombing in with up-front, rabble-rousing Oi gang shouter ‘In Yer Face’ I have to admit I found a much more grown-up band here than I would have expected; not so much dirty old men but ones dealing with all life’s trials in a dare I say mature fashion overall. There’s plenty of musical variation too as well as some great supporting vocals from a seemingly un-credited singer (let’s call her Petra) on amusing songs such as ‘When Girlfriends Attack’ which could almost give ‘Fairytale Of New York’ a running for the tongue lashing old Peter gets. Of course it’s not all without obvious juvenile misbehaviour with songs like ‘C U Next Tuesday’ making you want to put the lads firmly in detention but it wouldn’t be right if they didn’t get up to some sort of mischief during these 14 numbers.
Sticking out in particular is ‘Wrong’ with some real cold and chilling near post-punk guitar lines and snarling vocals. It’s another song where Peter can’t do anything right and we can only sympathise with his plight. ‘Silicone Beer Gut’ throws a real country hoe down curveball into proceedings with its story about Johnny who may not still be marching home but has let his punk ways down to sprawl into middle age spread. Short sharp and volatile ‘Youth Of Today’ cites The Buzzcocks at first before going all gob rock and vitriolic and ‘Tramp Killer’ gets some ballsy brass and sassy female vocals taking it to another dimension. I may not have been guffawing along all the way through this but there were plenty of wry smiles on first spin not least due to the self-descriptive ‘Crap Californian Punk Band’ (the likes of which are totally banned from this site) complete with Lars Frederiksen joining in on the sing-along. As the last song Pissedenstein proves it’s no alcohol free jaunt, the band have not gone and found religion or anything else by the sound of things but perhaps Peter has had a fair few relationship issues judging by the scorn thrown at some of his past girlfriends during the album.
So is this Shallot, sounds unlikely, after all the band have kept going for over 3 and a half decades, still seem popular live (even if not in America) and are signed to this Nuclear Blast affiliated label with other surviving peers. I think they deserve at least a glass raised in their direction for all their efforts. One thing’s for sure they certainly know their punk rock onions!
(7/ 10 Pete Woods)