Most noted for including a pre-Stray Cats Brian Setzer in their lineup, the Bloodless Pharoahs were active on the New York and Philadelphia new wave circuits in the late '70s, although they didn't manage to land a recording contract. If your interest is piqued because of the Stray Cats/Setzer connection, be warned: they bore little influence to the group that would storm the world with "Rock This Town" a few years later. There's not a rockabilly lick in sight on their brooding, retro-influenced new wave songs (some of which were issued on the small Distortions label in 1996). Instrumentally, the band centered around not just Setzer's already accomplished guitar playing, but also singer Ken Kinnally's organ and Wurlitzer electric piano. Kinnally's vocal delivery bore some resemblance to those of Bryan Ferry and (less distinctly) David Byrne, so the end product sounds something like a cross between early Roxy Music, Modern Lovers, and Talking Heads. That's not at all a bad thing, actually. The professionally recorded Kinnally-Setzer tunes (recorded in 1978 and 1979) on the 1996 Distortions album may actually have more appeal to new wave collectors than to Stray Cats fans; it's among the more interesting, enigmatic obscure local U.S. new wave of the era.
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