The Joneses - Criminals & Tits and Champagne (2 EPs on 1 CD)

It's difficult to begin a write-up of a band that really should need no introduction. Their aim to sound like a cross between New York Dolls and Eddie Cochrane was fulfilled until, as frontman Jeff Drake puts it, "then came the metal bands and ruined everything." The Joneses may have been "too glam for punk and too punk for rock" but the cool kids, sadly in hindsight, realise that this trashy outfit really were more than a little special. Anyone not knowing the story of The Joneses really should stand in a corner and hang their head in shame.

On the subject of cool kids... there surely can be none cooler than the cats at Full Breach Kicks?! Not satisfied with covering our milky white bodies with supreme t-shirts, these good guys are reissuing some great music and finally giving some horribly undervalued gems the place in the spotlight that they deserve. Their release of the entire Soho Roses back catalogue mirrors their work with The Joneses - essential recordings by gloriously trashy outfits who left us way too soon. This '2 EPs on 1 CD' reissue is, again, an essential purchase, collecting two highly sought after 12" EPs and putting them out there in re-mastered form and with rare songs, lyrics, never before seen pictures and liner notes.

The 'Criminals' EP sounds vein-achingly vintage, and by vintage I don't mean distressed in an Asian sweatshop with sequins added in the form of the AC/DC logo! The title track is a gutter-glowing firecracker of a tune that smacks of a certain John Genzale jr. There's a punk 'n' roll cover of 'Crocodile Rock' that makes me wonder if Elton John might just have had a Thunders piece in his hair closet. Exclusive to this release is the rockabilly influenced 'Bedrock'. 'Tits and Champagne' - wrapped in iconic artwork featuring Sophia Loren casting an envious glance at the Jayne Mansfield funbags - is a more polished and better produced affair. The title track and 'I Wanna Buy You a Ring' are perfect slices of sleazy punk rock 'n' roll that readers of this site will kill for. Throw in covers of Hank Williams' 'Your Cheatin' Heart' and Chuck Berry's 'Route 66' and the trashy time capsule is complete.

Y'know, reviewing reissues can be tough. Sometimes it feels like you have escaped the clutches of a serial killer but then have to relive the sheer horror at the trial. Thankfully, this release is ultra cool. With 'Criminals' also being released on 12" vinyl (Tits and Champagne vinyl being already available) this is not just heaven for completists but also a perfect jumping on point for any self respecting music fan who has missed out on this most undervalued of bands.

by Gaz E.

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