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 summers 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
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 youll find the bands slightly poppier side with
the glam clap-along of Too Cool For Skool. And its all
shot through with a sly sense of humour. An album of genuine theatrical
variety. Excellent. KKKK
LOGO MAGAZINE - March 2003
Hacking up inflamed rock-n-roll with an unrelenting brutality that belies
their comfortable Northern surroundings, Huddersfields 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 cant sing for toffee barely registers
as 14 chunks of brutal rocknroll hammer through your temples
with all the desperation of a 47 year-old virgin in the back of a knocking
shop. Excellent stuff.
ROCK SOUND - January 2003
Sometimes we cant help judging a book (or CD!) by its 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 its with Hendrix in mind, as The Wrath Of
The Mighty recalls the classic stabs of Crosstown Traffic
until things get altogether more sinister. Ysee, 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. Theres the seemingly straightforward
Bane Of My Life or the clap-rock of Too Cool For Skool,
but underneath theres a seething underbelly of madness!. Step aside
The Hives and co - this is retro-rock with panache! 7/10
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
Heres 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 70s glam that Marc Bolan
would shake a boa to - yes, theres 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 continuitys 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 its 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.
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.