Pink Fairies: ‘Chinese Cowboys’ – 5 stars

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Mott-the-Dog_LogoThe Pink Fairies have been going on and off for almost fifty years – meaning many different line-ups over the decades and band-members coming and going as the feeling took them.  The group’s first performing stint took place between 1969 and 1975, although at that time they appeared under many different names and with varied line-ups.  But after three albums, all with a different playing cast, in 1973 and due to dwindling audiences they fell apart.

Two years later and persuaded by the influential head of Chiswick Records, the band reconvened for a reunion concert at The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London for a one off gig and live recording.  In true Pink Fairies fashion there were no rehearsals and the resulting album was not released until 1982.

Various incarnations of the Pink Fairies went out on the road for the next twelve years and even recorded some pretty dodgy albums.  Not that many people took much notice.  But in 1987 Jake Riviera (the famous Jake Riviera of Stiff Records and at the time head of Demon Records) offered the Pink Fairies a recording contract for one album and financial backing for a tour, provided the majority of the band would get back together.

The Pink Fairies in 1975.
The Pink Fairies in 1975.

The lynchpin and key figure was Larry Wallis, the man with the songs and that characteristic Pink Fairies sound on guitar.  Well Wallis was at the time kicking his heels so straight away you had the main man onboard.  Then the famous double drum line-up was filled by Twink and Russell Hunter, Duncan Sanderson was dragged in on bass and Andy Colquhoun was brought in as a stabilizing influence on second guitar (even though Colquhoun had never been a Fairies band-member before, but Paul Randolph wasn’t interested), so yet again the Pink Fairies were up and flying.

The resulting album called “Kill ‘Em & Eat ‘Em” was crammed full of supercharged rockers in true Fairies style, in other words Larry Wallis’ barbed songs but this time tempered by some good humored ditties by Andy Colquhoun.  The band even went out of tour – and what a wonderful racket they made.  Real party stuff!

The live album of the tour, “Chinese Cowboys”, was recorded at two 1987 gigs the band played at Leeds and at the Long Marston Speedway in central England.  Sure there are plenty of fluffed notes on this recording and the vocals are more powerful than tuneful, but for sheer excitement nothing beats this pure rock‘n’roll music.  The guitars are played with sharp elbows jutting out and at the speed of light, butting up against each other for space.  Duncan Sanderson swings his bass guitar very low and keeps everything pounding along hard.  Meanwhile the double-drum barrage never lets up.  Nothing beats the Fairies at full blast.

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You get plenty of tracks from the “Kill ‘Em & Eat ‘Em” album plus a least one song from each of the first three proper Pink Fairies albums, and as a special treat a rocked out version of the Larry Wallis solo single which has become his signature tune, “Police Car”.  The album finishes with a shambolic eleven minute twin drum solo.  This is rock music played like it should be played – just for the fun of it.

Of course the Pink Fairies, being who they are, meant that it all couldn’t be held together for long.  Twink left the fold later that year and Larry Wallis departed the year after.  End of the road once again it seemed.  But then, just when you thought the Pink Fairies were maybe gone forever they rose from the ashes one more time in 2014, now fronted by Andy Colquhoun on lead guitar and lead vocals along with Russell Hunter and George Butler (another new Fairy) on drums, Duncan Sanderson on bass and shock horror, Jacki Windmill on keyboards and joint lead vocals, making her the first keyboard player in the band and also the first girl.  There’s even a new album out in 2017, “Naked Radio.”

Tragically, Larry Wallis sustained a trapped nerve in his back a few years ago and struggles to even pick up a guitar these days.  How times change in Never Never Land.

Track List:

Raceway

Street Urchin

Waiting for the Lightning to Strike

When Does the Fun Begin

The Snake

Do it

Takin’ LSD

White Girls on Amphetamine

Seeing Double

As Long As The Price is Right

Waiting For The Ice Cream To Melt

City Kids

Police Car

Walk Don’t Run (double-drum solo)

Note: Album review written by Mott the Dog and Hells Bells.  Mott The Dog and his cronies can often be found slurping from their bowls at Jameson’s, Nova Park, Soi AR in Pattaya.