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Steve reviews first Doctors of Madness album Print E-mail
Monday, 06 October 2003

The album is called  LATE NIGHT MOVIES ALL NIGHT BRAINSTORMS and Steve's review appeared on newspapertaxi.net on July 10th 2003. I've pulled it from the internet archive at http://web.archive.org/web/20040124054131/www.newspapertaxi.net/pages/ntReview.asp?reviewID=141

 

A screaming, tearing haemorrhaging blast, this 1975 debut, a wrenching, drug-withdrawing, orgasmic, shuddering train wreck of a record.
Yes, the Doctors of Madness, the logical terminus of all glam/decadent rock from the Velvets through Bowie and all the rest of the night creatures who slunk across a stage during those crazy wild days of the seventies, post Beatles but pre punk. Only these Doctors were from a darker universe and none of it ever connected at all ... but how could it?

The English press hated em. Hated their names, Kid Strange, Urban Blitz, Peter Di Lemma, and Stoner. Hated their short dyed hair and sonic mayhem. After all this was 75 and the critics had to wait another year or two before silly names, short colourful hair and chaos become de rigeur.

But to me in cold alienated Canberra this record was manna and I sucked dry its every last nuance and squeak. It was just what I was looking for.

?Waiting? starts the ball rolling, velvetsy, insistent.
What a chorus!? "Rationalise this pageant of pigsties
definalise the unthinking grey skies." I mean ? Exactly, man!

Urban Blitzs violin is more lead guitar than lead guitar, howling in outrage from its electronic breakdown throughout this record, coming together in multi-tracked orchestras and solo weird genius quicksilver busted up melodies, then it blocks up and comes down on the beat like an axe.
The guy bleeds for you via his violin, sometimes getting soaked up in the general guitar noise racket, blending together in symbiotic rockin?, rollin? dizzyin?, sickenin? combinations .

In ? Mitzis Cure?, an incurable junkie bullshits to herself and her cronies..

?This time Mitzi says she?s going in for the cure?
Stranges voice milks the real unlikelihood of all this with cockney sarcasm and a mocking hush descends.
?She?s so sure she can make it if her friends stop breaking it down?
Meanwhile the calm of the rehab/asylum is shattered by nasty events

?In brilliant blue gardens
the bigshot gets shot down
there?s too many accidents
the nurse found a time bomb
it blew off her forearm
ah ... its all so unlikely?


Always the violin swooping, soaring, playfully alluding to other things, bits and pieces, while the atrocious story unfolds all around it segueing seamlessly into ?Afterglow? where Strange lies entwined with his lover in a fleeting moment of eerie calm before the insidious insinuating throb of the music tears him away and carries us on through our sordid journey through the city?s ripped backsides, into desolate urban nitemarescapes predicated upon the mocking violin and the oozing voice.

Now Richard ?Kid Strange? is an interesting guy. His words are pretentious, literary, Dylanish, ridiculous and magnificent all at once, delivered with his speech defect that renders all ?R?s as ?WR?s as in

?Wreligion , its just a fetish?
?Wreversal boys with fwrozen shoulders? etc.


His world is a world of theatrical camp, confused sexuality, white powders and cold, harsh burroughsian city scenes ... all yellow lights and chemical roller coasters.

In retrospect, Strange was a little too enthusiastic in his journey thru the underworld to be the total out and out authentic on the street wastrel ( as opposed to say, Johnny Thunders) but he opens the voyeuristic vista into London?s underbelly of bedsits, addicts and freaks, just as Brett Anderson would do with Suede in the early nineties

?The noises of the city ? are never far away as darkness stains the mainland?..?

Its like you are there, in that Ladbroke Grove coldwater flat, and you?ve run out of dope, your girlfriends maybe a bloke, your nose is bleeding, the electricity has been cut off, and yet still the violin and the snaky bass draw you on and deeper.

?Billy, watch out, there?s a weird scenes addict about
about, about this time in history we slowly turn to sand??
So you carry on with the drugs and the sex and the music until ending up with ?Mainlines? where the shooting up and the railway metaphors are all tied together in some desolate end o? the line , industrial suburban hell-hole.

?Mainline trains would never find drivers to run a service out to here?

As the music ascends and descends, turning into a cheap fake but glorious finale as the guitars and fiddles and voices collide and leave off and there you are , safe at home, but with the cellular memory of being dragged thru a mid seventies London moonage daydream of wild beautiful music and clever lyrical nihilism.

Very hard to find, but worth any effort. One of the best albums of its type. Ever.

Postscript
The Docs would record two more albums, neither as good as this but both still very essential. Urban Blitz cut out after album number two. They played their last ever show in 1978 at the Music Machine, London. I was in attendance; they were superb, even as a three piece.

Strange made great ?autobiographical? album, ?the rise of Richard Strange?, telling how he is made head of some proto euro state and then betrayed (a la Christ) which had some very good songs but lacked the chaotic splendour of the doctors.

He can now be spotted playing bit parts in British sit coms (I kid you not), I saw him on one just the other night as a doctor (!). He?s still got that speech impediment, though. All Wright!!

Comments on this review

from FLORIDA - "Enjoyable reading. Curiosity about Madness piqued as well."

from CONNECTICUT - "Steve, Having never heard of this band I tracked it down on Amazon UK because of your review.Great period peice stuff!THANKS!"

from COPENHAGEN - "Great review.However Blitz did complete the recording of album number 3 before quitting.See Richard's Book "Punks and Drunks""

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