Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Bellrays
Let It Blast


Released 1998 on Vital Gesture
Reviewed by The Rubber Onion, 14/03/2001ce


Imagine Tina Turner had dropped in on the Raw Power sessions and taken over the vocal duties from Iggy and you have The Bellrays. Let It Blast is their first and originally a vinyl-only release back in 98', now released this January on CD on their own Savage Gesture label,
Recorded in their tiny practice space (“without any help from your sorry ass” as the sleeve notes), Let it Blast packs a raw punk-rock punch with some of the best soul vocal performances of the past couple of years, thanks to the dynamic Lisa.
She cudgels and coaxes her band into an extra gear with each song, all the while testifyin’ at the altar of the soul-punk revolution.
From the opening chant of Future Now, the band launches into Changing Colours, an all out sonic attack on racism into the solid rock of Cold Man Message before the glorious stop-start anthem of Today Was.
By now we are in serious rock-out mode and with the introductory cry “Got a pain in my heart goin’ straight to my head” KERBAP!… Kill the Messenger is one of the stand out tracks on this fantastic album. Like a trip to Harlem on a Sunday with the MC5, if they played this in church I might think about getting religion.
Just when you think the band are going to crank it up another notch they take it right down with Blue Cirque, a lazy hazy jazzy soul number, slightly out of place but also somehow just right. Guitarist Tony Fate then rips out some power chords into the empty, echoing void marking the opening of the moody Good Behaviour, another more laid back track that shows off Lisa’s rich as chocolate vocals perfectly
The demented jazz boogie of testify has the band back into preacher-man territory before they find themselves firmly back in the realm of Raw Power with Dark Horse Pigeon.
As a convert to the church of the Bellrays, I could go on track by track with the remaining cuts on Let it Blast, but I won’t. Needless to say this is a refreshingly good album by a current gigging band, right through to the hard rock finale of Get on Thru.. I can’t tell you much more about The Bellrays, except they are from Los Angeles and are supposed to be even better live. If you happen to be in the US this Spring, they are touring.. In the meantime, I commend to you, Let it Blast.


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