Guana Batz

Get Around/Shake It Up

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While the Guana Batz were one of the leading bands on the U.K. psychobilly scene in the 1980s, 1994's Get Around sounds more "billy" than "psycho," and for the most part that works in its favor. Get Around was recorded quickly when singer Pip Hancox announced he was moving to the United States and the band wanted to cut a farewell album before his departure would put the band on hold, and on most of the album's 15 cuts, the monster movie and American gangster mythos that dominated the genre falls by the wayside in favor of kicking up the rhythms and simply letting the tunes rock on out. While guitarist Stuart Osbourne goes for a fuzzier and more aggressive sound than most rockabilly traditionalists (especially on the almost-metal "Hot Stuff") and the rhythm section kicks hard, Get Around leans to the basics of new-school 'billy, and it's plenty of fun -- Hancox wails on tunes like "Chill Out Blues," "She's Neat," and "Shake It Up," the band puts a lot more heat behind their cover of the Toys' "Tell Her" than you might expect, and the musicians sound tight and emphatic despite the rushed circumstances of these sessions. On Get Around, the Guana Batz managed to sound relaxed but committed at the same time, and if it isn't quite the group's strongest album, it's certainly good enough to stand beside their best work, and shows they had a lot more going for them than just shtick. [The 2007 CD reissue from Anagram Records adds three live tracks from the 1992 Japanese EP Shake It Up as a bonus.]

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