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Album review: The Rezillos - Flying Saucer Attack

The Rezillos - Flying Saucer Attack: The Complete Recordings 1977-1979 (Cherry Red).
The Rezillos - Flying Saucer Attack: The Complete Recordings 1977-1979 (Cherry Red).

Formed in Edinburgh in 1976, The Rezillos are perhaps best known for their single Top Of The Pops, which made No.17 in the UK charts a couple of years later.

A staple of punk compilation albums pretty much ever since, its infectious charm is obvious, but there’s much more to them than that, as anyone who’s delved deeper will know.

That single, which saw them appear on the BBC music show, was - the the general public at least - high point of their brief existence.

They split in 1979, and though some members reconvened as the Revillos, who maintained a cult following, they were unable to replicate their earlier success, and broke up again in 1985.

Their energy and attitude had seen them lumped in with the new wave movement, mainly because of songs like Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite (an obscure Fleetwood Mac cover).

But in truth they owed more to '50s rock ‘n’ roll and '60s garage bands, and a fascination with science fiction and B-movie kitsch.

A recent picture of The Rezillos, who are still touring today after reforming in 2001.

A recent picture of The Rezillos, who are still touring today after reforming in 2001.

This 2CD set, subtitled The Complete Recordings 1977-1979, gathers two albums, their excellent 1978 debut Can’t Stand The Rezillos, and the following year’s live album Mission Accomplished ... But the Beat Goes On.

It adds single versions and B-sides from the time, and all the tracks have been freshly remastered for this release.

Brimming with vim and vigour, they sound like they were recorded last week, not nearly 40 years ago.

The aforementioned Top Of The Pops and Somebody’s Gonna Get… are of course present, along with the title track.

They were a dab hand at cover versions, and their takes on Gerry & The Pacemakers’ I Like It, the Dave Clarke Five’s Glad All Over and Lennon-McCartney-penned B-side I Wanna Be Your Man, which was a hit for the Rolling Stones, are here too.

Don’t get the idea they were just a covers band though; most of the first album was original material, and the likes of 2000AD, (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures and I Can’t Stand My Baby more than hold their own.

The live album gives you the gist of what a thrilling live proposition they were (and continue to be, as a reformed line-up, including front pair Fay Fife and Eugene Reynolds, has been playing since 2001).

More than half the tracks in the live set aren't on the debut album, most notably the single Destination Venus, Thunderbirds Are Go and a superb cover of The Sweet’s glam stomper Ballroom Blitz.

There’s nothing here which long-time fans won’t have heard before, with the possible exception of alternative versions of Good Sculptures and Getting Me Down, recorded for the hard-to-find 1979 compilation Scottish Kultchur.

The Rezillos were - and continue to be - tremendous fun, and if you haven’t got the original albums, this is a worthy addition to any record collection. 8/10.