quarta-feira, 14 de janeiro de 2015

GARBO (UK) - The Dancing Strange (7'', Rarn Records, 1982)


Many dedicated NWOBHM collectors are probably well familiar with Janine, a slightly glam-oriented outfit that released quite a well regarded 7'' called "Crazy On You" (or "Crazy Onion", as some sarcastic listener once pointed out to me in quite a memorable way) before disbanding by early 1982. It wasn't the end of the line for the musicians involved though, and most of them kept their careers going at least for a while. Janine's singer Bob Hamilton, for instance, established a new band called Garbo, keeping the mike stand and also accumulating guitar duties. His old chap Andy Steele (who also took part in Janine for a while) took over the drumstool, and bassist Billy Colvin (another old friend of Hamilton, both formely associated with a youthful act called Necromancer) swiftly joined in, the trio becoming what was soon to be know as Garbo.

What comes next is not exactly a sucessful story - Garbo seemingly lasted for little more than a year with such a moniker - but at least they managed to release an EP to forever remind us of the band's existence. Released by the small Rarn label at the second half of 1982, "The Dancing Strange" is a considerably adventurous record, filled with quirky ideas and a laudable leaning towards experimentation. Actually, I must make it clear that we're not dealing with a pure-blood heavy metal record: Garbo seems to be way more comfortable as a glam rock outfit (the front cover tells no lies, you know) with generous synth rock influences - not the heaviest music you'll ever hear, but still close enough to fit the ever-expanding NWOBHM multiverse.

The title track is a semi-acoustic number with very creative arrangements and catchy backing vocals. The slightly atmospheric middle section breaks the mood quite efficiently while not overstaying its welcome, and it's another highlight on a pretty interesting song. Nice tune indeed. The other remaining songs are not that effective, I think, but are still within the required standards. "Why Don't You Call Me?" is the most unusual when it comes to song structure, and perhaps its many different parts are a bit too much for such a short track (little more than two minutes in total), as it does sound a bit confuse at first. It grows on you after repeated listens, but I would still consider it to be the less accomplished composition here, although far from being really objectionable. "Everyday Hallucinations" brings another simple-and-catchy chorus to the table (Bob Hamilton seems to have been quite good writing choruses BTW, as it was also a highlight in Janine), and it's perhaps the closer we'll get to heavy metal waters around here, though it's more of a Marc-Bolan-meets-The-Damned kind of tune. The bridge to the chorus could be a bit less freakish (the unpredictable can sometimes be a song's undoing, as we all know), but it's a song that sticks to your mind with little effort, so it's sure way more a triumph rather than a flop.

It seems Garbo went under such a name until 1983 at the very latest, then assuming a new identity as Vis a Vis and writing new material more attuned with indie rock than anything more forceful or metallic. Remarkably, Bob Hamilton and Billy Colvin remained a musical force at least until the early 90s and possibly beyond, both being active at the small-club circuit up to this day. It's heartwarming to learn that some talented musicians out there just never give up playing rock, as sometimes people are too focused on pursuiting fame and money and forget that it's all supposed to be fun after all. I'll drink to that. Thanks for all the music, lads.

Bob Hamilton (V/G), Billy Colvin (B), Andy Steele (D).

01. The Dancing Strange
02. Why Don't You Call Me?
03. Everyday Hallucinations

Thanks a ton to Heavy Metal Rarities Forum for audio files and picture scans!

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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