sábado, 17 de janeiro de 2015

BOLLWEEVIL (UK) - Rock Solid (7'', Ellie Jay, 1981)


It took a remarkably short space of time for Bollweevil to leave a indelible (albeit belated) mark into the NWOBHM conscience. Most scholars agree that their collective existence was a very fleeting one, and the band's actual lifespan may have been limited to a single year in total, or even less. Still, the five-piece proposition from Surrey (UK) went as far as to record a couple tracks and release it as a 7'' single on the small-but-prolific Ellie Jay label. And this humble slice of vinyl (edited, as far as we know, in a very small run of a few hundred copies), though mostly ignored at the time of its release, would soon become a huge deal as soon as the NWOBHM collecting scene stablished itself in around the early 90s. Well, you all know the score from this point onwards: the "Rock Solid" single is a very rare gem that rarely comes out for sale, and it takes considerable amounts of moolah to get hold of a copy in playable condition. But is it that good, you ask me? Well, I guess everyone will have a different opinion, but I would say that the hype around it is mostly justified.

The song "Rock Solid" became something of a obscure classic for NWOBHM addicts, for both musical merits and razor-sharp irony. The production is pretty poor to be honest, with guitars seemingly plugged in a not-very-good home system and a snare drum that seriously sound like a pan - not to mention the very nasal singing of Barry Oaten, that sounds almost like a cartoon character in places. Surprisingly, such shortcomings are not enough to ruin the listening experience - quite the opposite actually, as they render the song in question even more light-hearted and funny. It's a very upbeat heavy rocker with nice guitar leads, ultra-catchy vocal lines and enthusiastic (though considerably brain-dead) lyrics about the pleasures of well, you know, rock 'n' rolling. You could listen to this track many times in a roll without ever get bored, which is quite an achievement when you keep things as simple as Bollweevil do. Flipside "Sands of Time" is a completely different kind of tune: it starts with a sedate, atmospheric intro soon metamorphosing into a mid-tempo, slightly epic composition with quite a forceful drive. Maybe not as memorable (and off-the-wall) as the A-side, but still a cool song in its own right, so it's fair to say Bollweevil's sole 7'' offers a very good return for any collector's money.

Despite being an interesting addition to the NWOBHM universe, it turned out to be a one-off. No further recordings from Bollweevil were ever unearthed (which tends to suggest this was their only visit to a studio) and there's virtually no mention to live appearances at any stage. I guess it's reasonable to think the lads played a few small-club gigs, but they probably never put that much effort into promoting themselves, opting to disband not long after "Rock Solid" hit the shops and swiftly returning to their day jobs. Not surprisingly, no one really know what happened to the guys since Bollweevil became history. Some have hinted that guitarist Steve Spencer hooked up with some indie rock outfits in the mid 80s, included an act called Jeda, but the axeman's name is such a common one that we need some further evidence before taking it as a fact. As usual, any further info on Bollweevil would be greatly appreciated, so if you happen to know anything, please kindly get in touch :)

Barry Oaten (V), Steve Spencer (G), Kevin Bezant (G), Brian Reid (B), John Cope (D).

01. Rock Solid
02. Sands of Time

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me at drequon@gmail.com and let me know!

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