Aliens and pistoleros : After 30 years THE MIDNITERS spread “Terror Incognito” on a new album
It’s been almost 30 years, since THE MIDNITERS released their 2nd album “Walk The Line”. It must have been around that time, that I got to know the band, when I heard “Where’s Derek” for the first time on the Fury-Records-Compilation “I Love My Car”. A bit later I came across “Please Don’t Touch” on the Rage-Compilation “Outrage Vol 1”. Now almost 30 years have past and I was quite astonished, when I witnessed, that the band had recorded a new album called “Terror Incognito” (Planet X Records). It looked promising with its Sci-Fi cover and as the band had a good reputation as far as I read in the history books of rockabilly and psychobilly, I had to give it a try and write a review. I didn’t regret it. Maybe also due to the fact that I didn’t expect entering a time tunnel and ending up with a quiff and Domestos jeans. It’s not that THE MIDNITERS had delivered an album here, that denies all original influences. But obviously Steve Steve Lawrence and the guys went for an open minded record that doesn’t fear straying away from the roots here and there. For example, the cover version of DEPECHE MODEs “Personal Jesus” is not simply putting some rockabilly swing under the harmonies of the original. It sounds more as if ADAM AND THE ANTS had put their spell on the rhythm group, will the guitars are combining the main theme with some distorted garage reminiscences and a bit of extra twang in between. The result is surprising in a really good way.
“Dead Man’s Hand” follows with a hybrid of “Rumble In Brighton” by the STRAY CATS and “Radar Love” by GOLDEN EARRING that has once been successfully neorockabillyfied by RESTLESS, before we blunder into the desert of a Spaghetti Western scenario with “Pistolero”, a cover version of a track the electronic band JUNO REACTOR recorded with Steve Stevens who is famous for being the guitar-sidekick of BILLY IDOL. Vultures are circling in the skies. They will stay hungry, as THE MIDNITERS prove to be alive and maybe more creative than ever. The track includes some well dosed distorted chords in a break and the pace changes with an unmistakable feeling for what this instrumental piece needs. If “Pistolero” is a dusty Western scenario, “In The Shadows” contrasts it with the foggy streets of London and Jack The Rockabilly-Ripper strolling through the night. The funny thing is, that for my taste the music of the verse in “Motorbike Mike” would have suited the ripper-subject even better. Well, who cares, as long as it is a good song?
“Terror Incognito” offers a lot diversity, including some BATMOBILE-moments in the bridge-part of the rocking title track with its chromatic-chord progression, a cool variety of guitar sounds like in “Butcher’s Basement” that starts with a dreamy classic instrumental-ballad-tone and ends in a menacing, creepy mood. By the way, this track is also a finde example for the great drumming of Brian Roe. “Drive By” shows traces of surf in between, “All Out Attack” has some rock undertones. So: boredom has no chance, when this record is on. Ok. I have been told I should look harder for the fly in the ointment when reviewing records. So well… I would have preferred a stronger vocal production. To give an example: The musical power of “Face In The Dark” doesn’t find a complete equivalent in the vocals, especially when the reach the higher pitch… and even when Steve makes use of a more rough vocal style, I would have stressed it a bit more. But to keep to the picture: This is more like a fruit fly, not a horse fly.
It is safe to recommend this album for open-minded listeners and if you are skeptical concerning comeback-releases it has to be pointed out, that it doesn’t sound like an attempt to warm-up some former success. Give it a listen!
I will leave you with the nice clip to the title track “Terror Incognito”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKTbSimd9to