With the abundance of audio recording software that’s out there, pretty much any guy with a laptop can cut a couple tracks in his spare time. I might even have a few of those sitting on my computer somewhere, but trust me, you DON’T wanna hear them! On the other hand, if that guy with his laptop goes on to front an internationally renowned rock band, suddenly, those basement demos become a collector’s item. Such is the case with this here recording from Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.
Recorded as a solo project by one Kevin Starrs (I guess you could call him Uncle Acid), none of these songs would appear on another Uncle Acid album, and many of them come off as incomplete ideas, noodling off into the void instead of coming to a proper conclusion. Apparently, Starrs only made 20 or 30 copies on CDR, but the subsequent success of his soon-to-be band has led Rise Above to remaster this initial effort, limiting the value of those original burned CDs. This is the kinda thing that would appeal to die-hard completist fans of the band, but probably doesn’t have much redeeming value otherwise.
Vol 1 begins with “Crystal Spiders,” a decent, 70’s-infused psych rock effort that shows some of the melodic guitar work that would become a feature of the future Deadbeats sound. Their lush vocal harmonies are not to be found here, however—the vocals are nasal, thin and a bit buried in the mix, particularly on the first verse. Despite the somewhat scratchy tone, the guitar solo toward the end is quite tasteful, although the song ends somewhat abruptly.
The guitar tones and half-buried organ harmonies of “Witches Garden” kinda remind me of Blood Ceremony, who already had a couple albums under their belt at the time of this recording. In fact, were it not for the vocals, which come in more clearly here, this song might not sound out of place on Living with the Ancients. Unfortunately, the brief keyboard solo that cuts through the mix has somewhat of that “dentist drill” tone that brings up bad memories of Boston. Much like its predecessor, this song devolves into more of a loose jam, ending on an extended instrumental note. You kinda get the feeling that Kevin was just fucking around a bit.
“Dead Eyes of London” sounds like a poor man’s “Saint Vitus,” albeit with a much less memorable chorus. “Vampire Circus” has a reverb-drenched riff that borders on surf rock, as well as an overly noodly guitar solo. “Do What Your Love Tells You to Do” sounds the closest to the Uncle Acid we know and love—crunchy guitars, soaring falsettos, and a catchy chorus… although it takes a pretty bizarre acoustic guitar detour around the four-minute mark, and fades out on more of a flamenco note.
“Lonely and Strange” is one of the more interesting songs on here. At a shade over eight minutes, it leans more toward prog rock, with jangly guitar parts, airy vocals that recall Pink Floyd and what sorta sounds like a violin solo. Speaking of Boston, though, the chorus on here has some major “More Than a Feeling” vibes.
OK, so this was a little more listenable than I expected—but it still pales in comparison to Blood Lust or Mind Control.