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Pussycat mentor Werner Theunissen had been tutoring the three Kowalczyk sisters in music since their early teens, and subsequently went on to write much of the band's best material.

Theunissen was clearly on a roll by the time Pussycat's second album Souvenirs was released, it consisting of thirteen tracks, all bar one of which were written by him (I believe guitarist John Theunissen was his brother), with "Nothing To Hide" written by one Eddy Hilberts.

Most of the material sits in the 4½ to 5½ star range, the only exceptions being the throwaway number "Don't Play Casanova" (3½ stars) - rather misplaced in what is after all the high-profile second slot on Side One - and the side closers are somewhat lesser as well, though still rating quite respectably at around 4 stars.

The strongest material is all on Side One, the best track in my view being the 5½ star album-only number "The Easy Way", then at 5 stars apiece the singles "My Broken Souvenirs" and "Smile", along with "You Don't Know". And at 4½ stars there's "Get It Higher", and the first three tracks on Side Two (with the third track "Some Day" featuring the album's sole male lead vocal, with the three females providing backing harmonies).

Substitute the expendable "Don't Play Casanova" with the band's biggest hit "Mississippi" from the previous year, and Souvenirs would pretty well represent a collection of all the Pussycat 'keepers' - the tracks worth hanging on to.

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Posted: Saturday 15th Jun 2019 1:32 PM

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album review
Although Southern Culture on the Skids (aka SCOTS) have been around for nearly four decades, and are still releasing albums to this day, Dirt Track Date is the first I'd heard of them.

Based on this album, my impression is that SCOTS are something of a borderline 'novelty' band, and whilst after such a lengthy career they've become quite accomplished as musicians, their songwriting doesn't strike me as especially notable, which might explain why they haven't had even one hit single in all their time together.

Even so, the band's sound is quite appealing, as being a three-piece it mostly consists of a stripped-back approach of twangy lead guitar and bass, plus percussion. The overall effect is rooted in rockabilly, with diversions into surf/rock-styled instrumentals, else apparently emulating the sound of other bands covering similar territory.

Album opener "Voodoo Cadillac" for example has a bluesie swamp/rock feel, not far removed from Creedence Clearwater Revival. But the most frequent reference point would be The B52's, except - as already indicated - the songwriting isn't in the same league, such that SCOTS end up coming across as a sorta third-rate B52's, something well-demonstrated on "Camel Walk", where even the songtitle is typical of The B52's.

Indeed, the standard of material see-saws all over the place, from three entirely tuneless / shouty numbers that I'd rate at only 1½ stars, to the rather generic leanings of the surf/rock and B52's-like numbers that all sit in the 2 to 3 star range. Then there's the mind-numbing 8+minute title track, the bulk of which consists of nothing more than a field recording of dirt bikes going round and round a track.

Still, there are a couple of 4-star tracks that are actually OK, mainly because the band for once manage to sound slightly less derivative, even if "Fried Chicken and Gasoline" is somewhat reminiscent of Three Dog Night's hit cover of Randy Newman's "Mama Told Me Not to Come", but with a Dr. Feelgood rhythm and vocals. And "8 Piece Box" (about fried chicken, again) still hints at Creedence. But those two tracks are about as good as the album gets, and - with a running time of 50 minutes - there's just too much subpar material to offer much by way of real listening pleasure.

All in all, I get the impression that SCOTS are essentially in the business of parodying the attitudes and lifestyle of 'trailer trash' youth (thus the artwork's used condom embedded in a tyre track I guess), yet I could see the band going down well at one of those notorious out-of-control 'Spring Break' parties, where US college kids habitually go apeshit crazy for a week or two. Outside of that, the band would need to come up with more original / stronger material to make any lasting impression.

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Posted: Wednesday 19th Jun 2019 6:09 PM

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