STRIKE! UP THE BAND - LP Press Reviews

KERRANG! - 08/03/03
Strange and wonderful garage-rock from, erm, Huddersfield.
THE SIX have been garnering more than a few good reviews of late, not least for last summer’s ‘The Continuing Saga Of The Scaramanga Six’ EP. Some of the tunes from that acclaimed CD find their way onto this their second album, bring the total up to a cracking 14 tracks of wilfull weirdness peppered with retro-riffing, parping saxophones and mad-genius keyboard special effects; B-movie chic combined with real musical muscle.
Best of all this is an album that surprises from start to finish; a track such as ‘Pressure Cage’ may rip it up big style, but just around the corner you’ll find the band’s slightly poppier side with the glam clap-along of ‘Too Cool For Skool’. And it’s all shot through with a sly sense of humour. An album of genuine theatrical variety. Excellent. KKKK
Essi Berelian.

LOGO MAGAZINE - March 2003
Hacking up inflamed rock-n-roll with an unrelenting brutality that belies their comfortable Northern surroundings, Huddersfield’s Scaramanga Six gnaw on the garage rock bone until their gums bleed. Upsetting guitar lines and runaway Moog injections heap their tunes into piles of flaming ire, with a consistent disdain for traditional song structures, yet ‘Strike! Up The Band’ is an unforgiving aural delight. The fact that the brothers Paul and Steven Morricone can’t sing for toffee barely registers as 14 chunks of brutal rock’n’roll hammer through your temples with all the desperation of a 47 year-old virgin in the back of a knocking shop. Excellent stuff.
Matt Brown

ROCK SOUND - January 2003
Sometimes we can’t help judging a book (or CD!) by it’s cover, and the Blair Witch-esque set of peepers looking out from this sleeve gives no indication of the strutting, arse-out garage-rock-with-a-twist that is The Scaramanga Six aural bombardment. And when they ‘Strike! Up The Band’ it’s with Hendrix in mind, as ‘The Wrath Of The Mighty’ recalls the classic stabs of ‘Crosstown Traffic’ until things get altogether more sinister. Y’see, these individuals may just as well have met in an asylum - their tunes twist and turn with guitar eccentricities and lunatic Moog injections, and are as raw as scraping your knuckles on a cheese-grater. There’s the seemingly straightforward ‘Bane Of My Life’ or the clap-rock of ‘Too Cool For Skool’, but underneath there’s a seething underbelly of madness!. Step aside The Hives and co - this is retro-rock with panache! 7/10
Ronnie Kerswell

WHISPERINANDHOLLERIN.CO.UK - March 2003
Maybe it's because your reviewer listened to The Stooges' "Raw Power" to get into the correct nerve-shredding mood to tackle this second album from Leeds' self-styled "band that torture from Yorkshire", but fifty minutes later he finds himself alternating between foaming at the mouth and evilly scanning the vicinity for anyone to offer out for a scrap. Who's that at the door? The Vicar? He'll do...  Such is the level of dementia liable to well up within anyone wanting to bask in the Scaramanga Six's brain-blistering aural sensurround, so be warned: "Strike! Up The Band" is not for anyone with a brittle streak. If, however, you like your rock'n'roll (and this IS great rock'n'roll) with intravenous side orders of monkey glands, then inject away. This is a truly great hit - believe me, I've only just come down from the ceiling!  Proceedings open with the (not very) subliminal "six six six" chant and soon change up to a dangerous fifth with "The Wrath Of The Mighty" in which the band beat the living excreta out of a riff that's a ringer for Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" and the Morricone brothers thunder: "We have the power, we can deliver!" in a manner leaving no room for doubt whatsoever.  It gets better and better as the story unfolds. "Pressure Cage" you'll already know from the "Continuing Saga.." EP and it's "Black And White"-era Stranglers-pistol-whip-The Birthday Party vibe hasn't diminished, while the past caring thrill of "You Do, You Die!" and the vicious, glammed-up, modern day "Aladdin Sane" strut of the ace "Too Cool For School" leave you gasping for oxygen. Nitrogen, even. By the time the compressed riffs'n'organ meltdown of "Rush Of Blood" kick in, you'll probably not be responsible for your actions.    Yet, despite this unfettered rock'n'roll action, The Scaramanga Six push even more erogenous buttons when they slow it down a wee bit. Indeed, "Elemental" and "Bane Of My Life" are two of the very best things here. "Bane Of My Life", especially, is magnificent, starting with a kooky organ riff akin to early XTC,. before building up to become one of the scariest things I've heard, especially lyrically. At one point, Paul Morricone exhorts: "Taking the children out for a swim, I want to drown them, why did I have them?" Christ and double Christ! The deceptively sweet "Stray Dog", meanwhile reins you in with its' "never ask where a stray dog's been" chorus. Aw, we knew they were old softies underneath it all, didn't we? Hmmm...  Ceaselessly inventive in ideas and merciless in its' execution, "Strike! Up The Band" will (probably literally) floor you, providing you can take the pace and intensity. That said, it's undoubtedly one of the best new albums you're gonna encounter this year and - like a tank battalion running over George Dubya's country retreat - is a thing of truly beautiful, murderous intent.  9/10
TIM PEACOCK

ABOUTTHEMUSIC.CO.UK -Feb 2003
Fire in the disco! Yorkshire sextet The Scaramanga Six might well be a tad miffed at the success of  Electric 6's brilliant number 2 hit 'Danger! High Voltage.' TSS have been making music like this since the mid 90s, then all of a sudden a record encapsulating their sound in 3 minutes appears.  'Strike! Up the band' would appear at first to basically represent this single stretched across a whole album. The similarities between the two bands are clear: The abundant use of the exclamation mark, the suitably deranged song titles ('You Do, you die!' 'Too Cool for Skool'); even the band members' names - I give you Dr John Gulliver on the organ, Jenny Jet Harris on guitar. 'Elemental' even contains excitable cries of 'the flames getting higher!' over a fervid garage-punk soundtrack. However, an even more demented version of The Cooper Temple Clause summaries things a little more accurately. It'd probably be easier to say what's NOT here. TSS seem to love it most things-David Bowie impersonating vocals, dense organs and doleful slide guitars: and often all to be found in the same song. In all, It's difficult not to fall for The Scaramanga Six's gloriously over-the-top hullabaloo.
7/10
Matt Tomiak

IREALLYLOVEMUSIC.CO.UK - Feb 2003
an interesting one.
trying to ignore my fondness for the origins of this lot (leeds ls6) i found my myself grooving to this far more then i expected.
opening with a spooky electro voice and noises this then lets rip into a full on mad 47 minutes, one minute coming over like a demented jello biafra fronting a carnival band from hell, next we're into a garage stomper - best example being 'too cool for skool' - corny title - but who cares when the glam stomp is making you smile like a cheshire cat on acid. the beats change several times every minute. aural disorientation. the bass is used as a weapon as opposed to urging the listener to dance this makes you wonder where on earth they are going next, vocals are treated and doubled up on most tracks.
is this punked up funk - or is it puked up fun ?
best comparison so far is the excellent one lady owner crossed with early devo. have the band heard the fatima mansions ? that band also had a similar sonic eclectism and a healthy desire for subverting the classic 3 minute pop song. the scara six are definite followers of the cause.
despite all the strangeness several tracks here have fantastic elements of melody and originality.
the music media are going to have a tough time pidgeon-holing this lot, which will probably result in them being ignored, which is a real shame as this is one of the most genuinely original things i've heard in quite a while. the only real drawback is the obvious lack of budget, this is very evident in parts making some tracks come over as stripped down demos - but evenso there is a spark of excellence within.
in short - fuckin' excellent quirky noisy fun.

MANILLA - Feb 2003
Pick a word to describe the latest release from The Scaramanga Six? Wonderful, breath taking, innovative, superb.
This is a must see band, from the gatecrashing 'Pressue Cage' to the smooth 'Elemental'. This band grab you by the hair and leads you through highs and lows that few bands are capable of. 'Too Cool for Skool' is vocally similar to Billy Idol, 'Stray Dog' is a haunting chill out tune. The band offers a wide range of genre and vocal style, which is best portrayed on 'The Continuing Saga'.
If your CD collection does not contain The Scaramanga Six...your collection is not complete

LEEDSMUSICSCENE.CO.UK - Jan 2003
Strike! Up the Band is a monster. The 13 songs, the two videos and the SIX SIX SIX count-in absolutely guarantee one hell of a good mood. Songs from "The Continuing Saga Of The Scaramanga Six" EP are all here, along with the single "You Do You Die" plus massive favourites from the live set.
The mood is grown up, aggressive, hyperventilated and steroid hungry. Steve Morricone's bass playing defines a relentless and disarmingly complex onslaught from start to finish. His voice takes all the high points, but his vocal henchpersons (Blood Brother Paul and Sister in Wrath Julia Arnez) scatter it about with dangerous unpredictability. The Six can hit you from anywhere.
After three murderous frontal assaults "The Wrath of the Mighty", "Pressure Cage" and "You Do You Die", a lilting Country and Kinks number looms up in leery post gig mood. "Bane of My Life", grunts with bass sax and rings with bright guitars. Don't get too smug though, it soon reveals its sharp teeth and its disrespect for the witless neo-human males among us. "I never loved you ... you're just a punch bag ..." This is dark stuff.
"Elemental" in the fifth slot is a scary thriller soundtrack. There's a great sense of adventure in the vocal harmonies and a huge guitar breaks through at just the right dramatic moment first with big chords and then with a searingly good single line. Keyboard backdrops and fills complete the very tasty production. The album is really warming up. "Face is on fire", he's singing and a rasping, humming guitar noise excoriates the ears and the psyche.
Tired yet? Hey, here comes the Best of Sweet and Mud, with a Suzi Quattro inspired "Too Cool for Skool" with totally hip guitar and bass parts and the very sweetest organ. This just makes me grin like crazy. The Six are stark staring bonkers.
Space rock scorches out next to rescue us from the Glam wreckage. "Rush of Blood" shows how messy your sound can get without losing it completely. There's a song in there, but it's getting the beating of its life. It's utterly redeemed by Steve's Mighty Bass Line. A sleeve note warns us "The legendary Bill Bailey plays lead guitar on "Rush of Blood" and is also responsible for why the track sounds so fucked up". Honest, if not grammatical.
"Stray Dog" is in something like Dave Cooke territory. But whenever the tune should go into sweet clear air, this one swerves off into something more painful and demanding. It holds the centre of the album with integrity, long enough for the drama of "Big in Small Town" to smash through as another shock to the system. The Six's trade mark bass and guitar unison is used to great effect and Julia's harmony adds sharp menace to the vocal line. The five note phrase of the title repeats mantra-like as the production rises and falls.
"Grasp the Candle" seems to come in right where "Big ...." leaves off with a fierce scream and some fat guitar. But there's a remarkable change at bar 7 and we're off on a demented journey through New York doo wap greased back punky syncopation. This is a fantastic track. Beefheart meets the Tom Tom Club, with Dion and the Belmonts getting into narcotics abuse. Steven Malkmus is in there too, in one steamingly bad mood.
And then, oh joy! The first twelve bars of "The Continuing Saga of the Scaramanga Six" are so euphorically fine that it takes me right back to all those great moments of pop heaven when we were young enough to think it could save our souls. So simple you might miss it. But it's echo is there through the whole verse and it comes in just enough times to lift the mood and leave you wanting it back on again as soon as it's finished. This is the stuff!
"The Lingering Death of the Scaramanga Six" follows as if a concept album were in the making. Don't be silly. This is the Scaramanga Six and we're in for more well-engineered chaos. There are more clanging guitars and mayhem and the now-to-be-expected rhythmic demolition of the building is accomplished by the modestly violent James Agnew on "drums" (doesn't fool me). And, as everywhere on this amazing album, there are many great noises more than enough to satisfy any mad collector of Moog and whammy bar samples.
We finish on a gloomy wet morning, like the sad part of the Crossroads film transferred to a Huddersfield solicitor's office. It's big ballad time with a voice-from-beyond theme and the grinning face of Mr Entertainment menacing us from the posthumous video. "Ladies and Gentleman"? none present here, M'lud. Well, maybe Jenny Jet Harris and Dr John Gullliver. But judgement is pending and even they could get life.
If I can't give my favourite album of the year 5 out of 5 I shall sulk.
And the videos are great. "Big in a Small Town" is very scary and unpleasantly erotic in a most unsettling way. BUY THIS CD NOW. 5/5
Sam Saunders

Yorkshire Evening Post - March 2003
Hot on the heels of last month's successful nationwide tour, Huddersfield's finest purveyors of alt-rock noise, The Scaramanga Six, are destined to hit the casual listener right between the ears with their latest album, available on general release from Monday. Fourteen tracks in length and with two MPEG videos thrown in for good measure, Strike! Up The Band provides a fine showcase for the inimitable Wrath Records outfit, and here Citybeat takes a track-by-track look at what's on offer.
 
Six Six Six. An enigmatic opening to the album as the band are counted in by a disembodied and eerie computerised voice, an indication of the sonic brainwashing that awaits the non-believer.
 
The Wrath Of The Mighty. An introductory anthem from The Six that exudes confidence from every screaming guitar riff and each dramatic drum roll. Unerringly catchy and undoubtedly menacing, this track would make a killer single.
 
Pressure Cage. Talking of singles, this was the lead track on last year's EP, The Continuing Saga of The Scaramanga Six, and its impact remains as strong as ever. The sense of menace continues, with Paul Morricone's raging vocals complemented well by brother Steve's chugging bassline.
 
You Do, You Die! The aural onslaught continues without pause for breath with this speedy former single. Shouty vocals, high-pitched screaming and hectic guitar strumming create an image of life continuously lived at 1000-miles-an-hour.
 
Bane of My Life. A change of pace here as The Six give a sizeable nod to the Inspiral Carpets, both through keyboard swirls and Clint Boon-esque crooning. The lyrics offer a darker tone, with a tale of domestic frustration leading to shocking violence - "You're just a punchbag".
 
Elemental. The pace has dropped, but not by much! Searing keyboards, drums like galloping horses, and "flames getting higher" add up to another rocking track.
 
Too Cool For Skool. A real stand-out track with its Tubes-inspired guitar riffs, sleazy brass section and belligerent vocal style, this number swaggers along from start to finish. Watch out, here comes Gripper Stebson!
 
Rush of Blood. One of the album's lesser tracks, this still has an impact thanks to its distorted and atmospheric guitar squall.
 
Stray Dog. A downbeat intervention that slows the pace and sounds almost like an old Scott Walker number. Perhaps not playing to The Six's real strengths.
 
Big In A Small Town. The atmospherics return as the vocals implore "Don't you know who I am?" The Six definitely have a penchant for screaming!
 
Grasp The Candle. A change of mood with this crooning, bop-a-loo-bop number, complete with high-pitched backing vocals and a slice of great sax from The Six.
 
The Continuing Saga of The Scaramanga Six. A smart opening keyboard riff introduces a memorable, comparatively mellow track that will have you absent-mindedly humming along hours later.
 
The Slow And Painful Demise. Into the dark again, as a wall of guitar noise confronts the listener and a keyboard wailing like a siren takes your legs away from underneath you.
 
Ladies And Gentlemen. An epic yet strangely funereal ending to the album, as The Six present a final sermon to the newly-converted. Builds to a dramatic conclusion as lively, charged guitars give way to what could almost be the sound of a dilapidated church organ.
By Dan Pullinger

DROWNEDINSOUND - March 2003
Filial Yorkshire garage heroes The Scaramanga Six are responsible for - to my mind - one of the coolest album titles ever, with their 1999 debut 'The Liar, The Bitch And Her Wardrobe'. It was a patchy but hard rocking lo-budget affair released on tiny indie label Trinity. Four years on, SS are still a fiercely independent Leeds-based outfit who now run their own label Wrath, yet this belated follow-up sounds a million quid in comparison. It's better produced, with a powerful, almost major-label rock sound and much stronger material.
'Strike! Up The Band' sounds like a group at the height of considerable powers, yet working entirely outside the indie scene, let alone the actual industry. SS wear the outsider costume well and exude a mafia-like family vibe, alongside awesome self-confidence. It gives strength to a vintage garage sound which places them much closer to a previous generation of energetic rockers, the Rocket From The Crypts, John Spencers or Goldblades than any skinny-rib Libertines brattery. Songs as deft, varied and memorable as 'Pressure Cage' or opener 'Six Six Six' also nod to a wider sense of Englishness that the London crowd often miss out on - these people really know their music. It wouldn't shock me if they grew towards psychedelia over the next few years.
SS have the requisite bulk in brother frontmen Paul and Steven Morricone, who pose in perfect foil to Julia Arnez's woman-on-top menace. Paul even pulls a Clarence Clemons honking sax into the blend on occasion, something only the most taut of men can get away with, without funny looks.
'Strike! Up The Band' is probably too long, with 10 of these 14 tracks probably making a better record. And towards the end there are two consecutive songs containing the band name in the title, which can't be healthy. But screw the missing A&R voice: heard in context of their resources and off-kilter approach, this is a bloody mighty little rock record that flies in the face of at least one current vogue - eschewing the possibility that blind ignorance is an appropriate selling point for loud music. SS never let you forget, even for a second, that they know EXACTLY what they're doing.
4/5
Toby Jarvis

UNPEELED, March 2003
BIG BAG OF SWAGGER
Oh dear, the national press are picking up the buzz and you better grab The Scaramanga Six close before they get too big to be cool. Meanwhile, this debut album fair pinned my ears back. They've grown massively in confidence and grabbed a big bag of swagger since last year's tentative "Continuing Saga..."ep. They start by pulling off a massively stylish and arrogantly controlled rock anthem with "Wrath Of The Mighty" and then sinply go on to tear the joint down. Barbed hooks, massive chording, tight-arse flash-git rhythm section and keyboards that add real muscle to an already huge sound. "Strike! Up The Band" is simply one of the best rock albums you'll be able to get this ear.

IS THIS MUSIC?. March 2003
Here’s a band that have been around for a while and with as many acts making scabby disease-ridden punk rock the world is finally catching up. Single ‘Pressure Cage’ is tops in a kind of obvious way - and is probably awesome live - but the rest is more intense and tightly wound. ‘Wrath of the Mighty’ surely sees the band using shovels for plectrums, but they have a jaunty riffing side too as on ‘You Do, You Die!’. ‘Grasp The Candle’ shifts to the other end of the indie spectrum, being as it is a Crampsy Gold Blade-ish kinda thing while ‘Rush Of Blood’ is metal art punk. Whatever the hell that is. ‘Too Hot For Skool’ is pure 70’s glam that Marc Bolan would shake a boa to - yes, there’s something for everyone here.
‘Elemental’ would please even the NME, being simple understated guitar rock. All they need is a one word name with a ‘the’ on front. And maybe for continuity’s sake, losing the rather too clever ‘Continuing Saga’ which is an odd coda, with Flaming Stars organ. Likewise ‘Ladies & Gentlemen’ shows the band have ambitions beyond mere rock music, aiming as it does for the epic and, despite the odd change in style, just about reaches it’s goal.

 

GLASSWERK.CO.UK - March 2003
This is deliciously sinister stuff from Huddersfield's The Scaramanga Six, and right from the start when 'Six Six Six' melds into the fury of 'The Wrath of the Mighty' you can tell it's going to be a bloody affair. Sounding like the Stooges if they were kidnapped and banjaxed by David Bowie, the Scaramanga Six  manages to balance the axe thrashings that dominate their raucous  garage-rock with catchy melodies and eerie keys effects. The Bowie influence is most obvious in 'Bane of my Life' and 'Too Cool for Skool', but this lot still manage to keep it as raw as trapping yourself in your flies. Noise seems to be all the rage nowadays, and this band serves it up in a big fuck-off ladle. Versatility is one of their strong points, as they meander between the hip-thrusting devil blues of 'Grasp the Candle' into the liberating euphoria that immediately follows in 'The Continuing Saga of the Scaramanga Six' and later on in the powerful closer 'Ladies and Gentleman'. The Scaramanga Six have really delivered with this album, their second long-player, which captures a mish-mash of conflicting musical opinions; an album that could draw comparison with the legendary 'White Album'. Well, almost.
Ricky Cheung

AMAZON.CO.UK - Feb 2003
If you're looking for an easy listen, best go elsewhere. Scaramanga Six are one of those skewed bands who, though drawing upon well-known influences, can't help but come up with something new. There's hard rock on Strike Up the Band, as well as punk, glam, 1960s pop and Northern soul, but their music's never one thing; rather a joyful, passionate and (usually) controlled collision of several or all of them. "The Wrath of the Mighty" opens like a twisted "Foxy Lady", before morphing into a huge glitzy rumble, like Swans covering T Rex, then races into a pulverising finale recalling the crescendo of New York Dolls' classic "Frankenstein". "You Do, You Die!" sounds like Hugh Cornwell fronting the Fall, while "Bane of My Life", with its fairground keyboards and soulful shriek, rises to a thrilling turmoil of guitars. No song ever sticks to its original course: they're constantly interrupted and sent spinning off into surprising new directions by a sudden scream, a cute girl-group refrain or an invigorating wall of sax. Harking back to Butthole Surfers' brilliant Locust Abortion Technician, the album opens with a sinister "Repeat after me, 6, 6, 6..." and this is entirely appropriate. Scaramanga Six play the devil's music--wild, abandoned and decadent.
Dominic Wills

 

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