Yob-rock icons Cosmic Psychos are back with a new album – but their time-honoured formula of beers, blokes and rock’n’roll hasn’t changed, writes PATRICK EMERY.
I used to work with a guy whose daily routine was the stuff of cliched public service ritual. At 10.30am every day he’d stand in the kitchen and cut his apple in the same standardised manner he’d practised over the preceding 25 years. Two hours later, he’d be back, preparing his cheese sandwiches, cutting them again in four equal sections. One day a younger colleague, with academic training in human psychology, posed a question: Would he ever contemplate cutting the sandwiches across the diagonal, rather than parallel with the sides? The response was enigmatic, yet painfully revealing. He stood there, knife poised above the uncut sandwiches, grappling with the infinite enormity of this perverse suggestion. One wondered whether if such a radical change in procedure might lead, domino-like, to a state of absolute turmoil where any semblance of structure and normality had been reduced to a pile of smouldering ruins.
Had my former colleague been enamoured of the Cosmic Psychos, and had the Psychos ditched their time-honoured formula of beers, blokes and rock’n’roll in favour of flaccid Sandringham yacht rock, one assumes the consequential effect would have been even more exaggerated. Thankfully, they’re still on the same fuzz-laden straight-and-narrow road to the pub they’ve always been on. There’s been the odd hiccup in the Psychos journey – the estrangement with original drummer Bill Walsh and the death of guitarist Robbie Watts – but it’d take a Massey Ferguson tractor to stop this immovable force of rock’n’roll, and even then most people’s money would be on the Psychos.
Now comprising the barrel-chested Ross Knight, John “Mad Macka” McKeering (Onyas) on guitar and Dean Muller (Hoss, Dung) on drums, the Cosmic Psychos have released their latest album, *Glorius Barsteds. Any dim thought of a concept album is shot down with the brilliantly simplistic ‘Nice Day To Go to the Pub’, a picture-perfect collage of Knight’s fuzzy bass, McKeering’s serene garage-in-the pub licks and Muller’s thumping beats.
There’s a moment during the piss-taking spoken word track that opens the second track, ‘Battlewitch’, when you wonder if the Psychos turned down the dark alley of gothic self-indulgence. However, the thespian air soon clears, the engine hots up and normal dirty rock’n’roll programming is resumed.
The paradox of the Psychos’ simplistic formula is the astute social commentary that lies just beneath the rough-as-guts surface. ‘Hate. Drunkenness. Vandalism. Demolition.’ takes aim at the idiocy of inner-city violence, while ‘Hoon’ does the same for the average bogan let loose on suburban streets. On ‘Please Sir (Can I Have Some More)’, Knight’s lyrics evoke scathing criticism worthy of Johnny Rotten. Macka gets his moment in the vocal sun on ‘Enmore Backender’, lacing double-entendres with screeching stadium rock licks.
“The paradox of the Psychos’ simplistic formula is the astute social commentary that lies just beneath the rough-as-guts surface.”
Let anyone think the Psychos were getting soft in their advancing years, ‘Bull At A Gate’ throws down the gauntlet to anyone who’s stupid enough to suggest the Psychos can be tamed. ‘3rd Strike’ is dumb rock in all its sneering glory and ‘Nude Sheilas on Motorbikes Drinking Beer’ is the alcoholic-pornographic dream sequence Russ Meyer needed to commit to celluloid. ‘Watchbox Truck (Fucked in a Truck)’ is a profane narrative of cognitive and physical incapacity on a suburban street and the early foxing ‘Tossing the Kaber’ gives way into the obligatory Psychos beery speedway assault. The final track, ‘Wake Up Rocket’, is awash with pathos, as the band pays tribute to its lost, and much loved guitarist, imploring him to wake from his slumber and “go and play some rock’n’roll”.
Glorius Barsteds comes with a second disc comprising a decent selection of your old Psychos favourites: ‘Custom Credit’, ‘Down on the Farm’, ‘Pub’, ‘Quarter to Three’, ‘David Lee Roth’, ‘Rain Gauge’, ‘Hooray Fuck’, ‘Dead Roo’, ‘Back in Town’, and a bunch more (issues with former drummer Bill Walsh means the priceless ‘You Can’t Come In’ is unlikely to feature in any future Psychos performances or releases). We’ve all heard it a million times – over a million years – and it’s still fucking great.
Take a cursory glance at any change management text, and you’ll be confronted with a slew of rhetoric describing the perpetual state of change – my favourite (sic) being the “permanent white water” – within which the contemporary world exists. The Cosmic Psychos couldn’t give a rat’s arse. As long as the beer is cold.
‘Glorius Barsteds’ is out now through Missing Link/Fuse.
Listen to the Psychos' classic 'Lost Cause':