Home Albums Album Review : Faster Pussycat – ‘Babylon: The Elektra Years (1987-1992)

Album Review : Faster Pussycat – ‘Babylon: The Elektra Years (1987-1992)

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Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM

Faster Pussycat were always going to be trouble. Named after famous director Russ Meyer’s schlock classic ‘Faster! Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’, the LA outfit were born in the glitz of Hollywood but had all the grime of the seething streets that lurk around every corner of the film capital.

Coming up at the same time as Guns ‘n’ Roses, the band mixed the same sleazy glam with hard rock and an edge of punk and new wave that made them a rougher prospect than the Gunners but equally as incendiary.

Whilst they may not have reached the stadium filling heights of Axl and Co, one stroll through
this new box set shows that they had tunes and attitude aplenty with enough of a spark to bring them into the big leagues.

‘Babylon’ draws together their first three albums, adds a bonus disc of their live EP and throws in some bonus tracks in a fascinating box set that should bring back a flood of memories and provide some raw excitement to the most jaded palate.

The self-titled first album had the dual edged sword of being released just ahead of ‘Appetite For Destruction’ so can certainly claim the prize for being first out of the traps but was unfortunately
overshadowed by the titanic success of the incendiary debut by their fellow Sunset Strippers.

Given the strength of the material, this fact is a shame but thankfully MTV beckoned and the singles from the album became staples on the all-powerful media outlet.

Featuring heavy hitters ‘Bathroom Wall’ and ‘Cathouse’ that mixed big riffs and big hair with a down and dirty attitude, there was plenty to draw people in, the guitars of Greg Steele and Brent Muscat things of barely controlled rage and the bourbon-soaked vocals of Taime Downe enough to seduce or scare a nun. It wasn’t all flash bump and grind though as ‘No Room For Emotion’ had a bluesy swagger and ‘Shooting You Down’ featured a chunky riff that had echoes of Chuck Berry interwoven into every note.

Add to this the wildly funky ‘Bottle In Front Of Me’ and you have an album that was made for parties and doubtlessly soundtracked a night’s activities at the Rainbow.

Things changed up slightly for the sophomore ‘Wake Me When It’s Over’, the riffs getting heavier and the drums and bass of Mark Michals and Eric Stacy respectively adding a lot more punch.

Titanic opener ‘Where’s There’s A Whip, There’s A Way’ was touching seven minutes and threw everything into the mix, the production sharper and bringing the monster to life with a massive jolt of electricity. From the bubblegum chorus of ‘Cryin’ Shame’ to the Southern Rock vibe of ‘Poison Ivy’, Faster Pussycat seemed to understand that they needed to plough their own distinctive furrow, rather than try to compete blow for blow with their contemporaries.

Amongst other gems, ‘Gonna Walk’ is a suckerpunch rocker that has flashes of Billy Gibbons in its DNA but its big acoustic ballad ‘House of Pain’ that brought in most of the female and lighter waving demographic who were vital for their continued growth.

Having toured with Alice Cooper, Motorhead and David Lee Roth following their first album, it was little
wonder then that they managed to mine some gold from each of these acts and shape them into this, their most commercially successful album.

Closing with the Stonesy barroom love song ‘Please Dear’, it was a done deal and Faster Pussycat showed they had the chops and intelligence to ensure their goal of a long-term career were well under way.

Buoyed by the success of their second album, the band went into the studio to record ‘Whipped!’, seeing if they could make it a hat trick.

As before, opening number ‘Nonstop To Nowhere’ is another lengthy epic, mixing elements of their glammy hard rock but also adding some, say it quietly, Jim Steinmanesque flourishes alongside some Springsteen blue-collar muscle.

It was a statement certainly and hugely melodic but there was no intention of selling out and diamond hard and feral fare like ‘Jack The Bastard’ along with the positively funky ‘Loose Booty’ meant they continued to follow their own muse. Of the three studio albums in the set, this is arguably the most diverse and best of the crop.

The band seemed to be coming into their own more than ever, so it was a cruel blow that Grunge
was fast approaching on the horizon, clad in plaid shirts and determined to destroy anything that resembled glam rock with the same intensity that Punk tried to kill Prog Rock.

The remaining live disc and various bonus tracks are a compelling insight into just how the band operated and capture the fire that they let loose when not restricted to tighter control. The in-concert tracks bristle with energy and the new versions or added cuts can be enjoyed as stand alone treats, barring the questionable cover version of Carly Simon’s ‘Your So Vain’ that was recorded for an Elektra Records 40th Anniversary album.

Although bands like Nirvana did bring an end to acts like Faster Pussycat as the band split in 1993, taken altogether, this isn’t just a great collection of songs but a signpost to what should have been, rather than
opportunities missed.

For those who missed them the first time, this is a great primer and with the band having reformed in 2001, continuing this day with Downe being the sole original member at the helm, it’s as good a time as any to revisit this era when anything went and often did. This cat had the cream.

Track Listing:

Don’t Change That Song
Bathroom Wall
No Room For Emotion
Smash Alley
Shooting You Down
City Has No Heart
Ship Rolls In
Bottle In Front Of Me

Where There’s A Whip, There’s A Way
Little Dove
Poison Ivy
House Of Pain
Gonna Walk
Pulling Weeds
Slip Of The Tongue
Cryin’ Shame
Ain’t No Way Around It
Arizona Indian Doll
Please Dear

Bathroom Wall
Poison Ivy
Pulling Weeds
Slip Of The Tongue
House Of Pain

Nonstop To Nowhere
The Body Thief
Jack The Bastard
Big Dictionary
Madam Ruby’s Love Boutique
Only Way Out
Maid In Wonderland
Cat Bash
Loose Booty
Mr. Lovedog
Out With A Bang
Nonstop To Nowhere (CHR Version)
Too Tight
Charge Me Up
You’re So Vain
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Pre-order now 👉http://cherryred.co/FasterPussycatBox

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