There are certain records when you first hear them that illicit an almost primal-like response from deep within the id which bellows out for their immediate and ruthless acquisition. Such were the feelings that accompanied the Fatima-like emergence upon my radar-screen of the two songs which comprised the entire official output of an aggregation known cryptically only as the Grudge. Truly the ‘Voices Green And Purple’ of glam, everything about the Grudge single was and is perfect: melodic, danceable, hummable, sadistic, great. Bubblegum misogyny at its best-and-blackly-humorous. I remember getting the record in the mail in one of the most lopsided trades I have ever been party to and marveling at the single’s intricate inscrutability and playing it non-stop. Like a piece of the True Cross, the Grudge single became the prize reliquary with which I would attempt to consecrate under-attended DJ nights and brandish at mostly apathetic after-party audiences.
A few years on, Robin Wills, owner-operator of the wonderful Pandora’s-Box-to-the-poor-house PurePop blog, unraveled the Grudge mystery which he had first unearthed back in the early 80s and identified the author of its two estimable tunes. Turns out, the gentlemen in question also had a hand-in-leather-glove with a pair of my other favorite singles of the era: Paul St. John’s Bolan-ic UFO anthem ‘The Flying Saucers Have Landed’ and Spiv’s mammoth glam-psych hard rock two-sider ‘Oh! You Beautiful Child’ b/w ‘Little Girl.’ Titanic efforts all; further cementing the divinity of their creator, Laurice Marshall. Grudge in three persons – blessed trinity.
Now, if rapture was mine in personal possession of the gospel of the Grudge (and Spiv), my reaction was
more St. Vitus (the condition, not the band) when the great Harry Howes of Last Laugh/Mighty Mouth
Records revealed to me the existence of additional Laurice recordings and his intentions to issue them
Now, I do not blame even the most zealous of believers for questioning the quality of the material on this record. In an age where Rave-Up false-prophets have deceived the whole world with toilet-bowl-level quality controls and inattention to basic details, logic would suggest that the likelihood of this record proving necessary listening would be slimmer than the needle in the camel’s eye. Thankfully, miraculously, happily, the Best Of Laurice Vol. 1 beats the odds and stands resplendent and resurrected; bedecked in shiny black leather and cradling you in its amyl-nitrate embrace.
He who has a rear, let him glisten…
Like the Dead Sea Scrolls of glitter rock, the Best Of… opens with Laurice’s most enduring and universal parable: both sides of the Grudge single. Recorded in isolation and issued on Cyril Black’s Black Label impress in 1973, it’s hard – when you first hear the vocals – not to immediately think of the Ramones
and harder still – when you hear the lyrics – not to instantly think of Nobunny or Hunx & His Punx.
‘I’m gonna smash your face in, I’m gonna smash your face in, bay-beh, I’m gonna smash your face in, oh yeah, my paper doll.’ Campy, ironic, outrageous and absolutely doomed to radio quietus in 1973, both ‘I’m Gonna Smash Your Face In’ and ‘When Christine Comes Around’ sound like nothing so much as the beyond-self-aware lyrics and approach of the Child Molesters or Albertos Y Los Trios Paranoias four years early.
Next epistle in line: another highlight – ‘Ain’t Got Enough To Give’ – which plays like a Joe Meek version of ‘Day Tripper’ (or is that ‘Gay Tripper?’) with a fuzzed-out night-train solo and boffo Screamin’ Lord Sutch scream-outro.
Closing out side one, both ‘Shy Baby’ and ‘That’s Nice’ emit a late freakbeat vibe, suggestive of a vintage much earlier than 1973; coming off closer to Kippington Lodge or Tomorrow than Roxy Music or Slade. The vocals on ‘That’s Nice’ are pure, erect and quivering Vince Taylor.
On side-two, affairs start to get much more mucho-macho and pink-triangulated with overt S&M themes and disco beats lubing up and slipping into the fore (‘take that yellow handkerchief out of your pocket!’). I don’t know what it says about me, but I find the Jobriath-y ballad, ‘He’s My Guy,’ extremely romantic and Jr. prom appropriate (please don’t tell my mother). Reinforced from slow dancing, ‘Rock Hard’ may be Laurice’s strongest post-Grudge offering: groovy gay hustler disco glam-punk-pop vibes ala the Mumps, Smokey, Wayne County or The Fast. It may not be Alex Chilton, but dudes will still certainly fist pump to it.
The dessert finale ‘Born To Serve’ and ‘Wild Sugar’ both skate dangerously close to Icecapades/Xanadu farce, but stick their landings with unnatural sodomite grace and unflinching commercial depiction of the seedier sides of the horizontal dance-floor.
So…the rhetorical question stands: do you need this record in your life? The rhetorical retort comes: ‘yes.’ Laurice’s harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, therefore send out workers into the harvest field so that all may know satisfaction and bliss.
Remastered from the original unissued acetates and with a ‘Volume 2’ already in the offing, Best Of Laurice Vol. 1 stands as irrefutable proof that there still remains gold lame’ in them thar hills. Order the LP, the Grudge and Spiv 45 today (Grab all 3 records HERE) or risk having your lampstands of credibility extinguished forever.
Check out a clip of the GRUDGE 7" right here and try to hold your love back, it's impossible!