The Stairs

Right in the Back of Your Mind

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For those of you who blinked and missed them, the Stairs were a group of never weres, so defiantly, ludicrously out of time and place (Liverpool, early '90s), it's amazing they ever got a gig, never mind a record deal. In a Britain tripping happily over its baggy trousers right into acid rock, these "snot nosed belligerents," as the sleeve notes calls them, were peddling a "cocktail of garage psyche and traditional punk pig-headedness." That didn't deter Go Discs from signing them, however, and releasing the Weed Bus EP and Mexican R 'n' B (mono vinyl!) album before the Stairs collapsed in 1993. Sadly, Right in the Back of Your Mind is not the band's great lost second album; happily though, it does include demos recorded for that set , as well as a clutch of more demos from Weed and Mexican, an unreleased number, and an incendiary live cover of Bo Diddley's "You Don't Love Me." Considering Edgar Jones' own deprecatory comments about the quality of these recordings and his own vocals, everything here sounds surprisingly good, a little rough around the edges and fuzzy around the guitars, but surely that's the way it should be. Okay, maybe "Out in the Country" is a little tinny, but so is the song, its bassline ripped from "These Boots Are Made for Walking" and stamping right over C&W. "Weed Bus" bares its roots -- the Who's "Magic Bus" of course -- but here hijacked by the Small Faces. There again the band's entire raison d'ĂȘtre was to pay tribute to the '60s -- the Seeds, the Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground, ? and the Mysterions, the Kinks, the Beatles, even the Turtles and Cream: you name them, they're here somewhere, lovingly resurrected, spiffed up, tarted out, then spit out with glee. If only the Stairs had held on another year or so, they might have cashed in big with Brit-pop. But it wasn't to be. This album, however, is a pointed reminder of just what a grand band they were, and with the likes of the White Stripes running riot today, just how far ahead of their time they were, too.

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