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The Bandits - And They Walked Away


Review: Graeme Kay

THE highly-rated Scouse sextet The Bandits, John (vocals), Richie (lead guitar), Gary (rhythm), Scott (bass), Tony (keyboards) and Swee (drums), make their album debut with a 12-strong set of songs, produced by the legendary Chris Kimsey - whose former credits include the Rolling Stones and Killing Joke.

Like their Merseyside mates, The Coral, The Bandits (the name comes from the nickname given to Gary by former Liverpool star, Peter Beardsley, who was a neighbour of the rhythm guitarist's nan) are a highly-skilled bunch of heads who, as their name suggests, take their inspiration from West Coast American bands such as The Doors, Love and Captain Beefheart.

While there's nothing here that even brushes shoulders with a duff track, the songs that make an immediate impression are the current single, 2 Step Rock, a rollicking, skiffle-beated floor-filler, drenched with hefty slugs of Hammond organ, and an Eddie Cochrane-style vocal, and its predecessor, Take It And Run, which with its chiming melody and rasping mouth-harp, canters along like a Texas-ranger on his way to a hoe-down at the Quicksilver Messenger Service.

Next up comes The Warning, a portentous lament trimmed with a country-tinged vocal, which, with its menacingly opaque lyrics, stirs up memories of Creedance Clearwater Revival's Bad Moon Rising.

Moving right along, Standing Under is a psychedelic trip that sounds like it landed in the San Francisco Bay area after hitching a ride from a haunted-fairground on Ken Kesey's Magic Bus.

Richie's off-kilter lead-lines twining themselves around Tony's ethereal keyboard shapes and Swee's military-style drum rolls to create an atmospheric spook-piece.

Numbers is a punchy rocker, which sees John declaiming enigmatically over a backdrop of melodic guitar spirals and crashing percussion work.

Once upon A Time, which, lyrically at least, suggests that the boys are trying to re-invent the sea-shanty, is a quirky, jug-band rocker decorated with more impressive guitar work and a shuffling, insistent rhythm.

The penultimate track, the melancholy ballad How Can I Believe, weaves and sways on legs provided by Scott's woozy bass line and Tony's boozy organ riffs.

Finally, the urgent, insistent On My Way rounds off the set with the stomping tale of a man determined to collide headlong with his destiny.

Altogether, And They Walked Away is a very promising start, with a particularly impressive performance from John Robinson, whose vocals sound far too world-weary and mature to belong to a mere 21-year-old from Liverpool.

Expect to hear a lot more from these buckos in the future.

Track listing:
1. 2 Step Rock
2. The Warning
3. Standing Under
4. Numbers
5. Once Upon A Time
6. Wake Them At Sunrise
7. Hung or Hunger
8. Take It And Run
9. Use your Voice
10. Chaos in the Courtroom
11. How Can You Believe
12. On My Way

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