Bellrays : Meet The Bellrays

...probably sound best when opening super-sized cans of lager with your teeth...

Soul Power is, sadly, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s great stupid

self-perpetuating myths. Yes, we can all salute music’s capability

to bring people together, but the idea that, say, the end of

racial segregation in the ’60s Deep South was in any way

accelerated by James Brown wearing a fur trilby and doing the

splits is misguided. Likewise Detroit metal-soul progenitors

the MC5 – with their political wing, extreme leftist discourse

and manifesto of “dope, guns and fucking in the streets” – were

vastly more interested in the tightness of their trousers and where

the next score was coming from than the total overthrow of the

blood-soaked capitalist pigfuck Amerikkkan establishment.

And so on to The Bellrays, a band who similarly like to adorn

their music with various different shades of airy Soul Power

rhetoric, when the simple fact is they are a goodtime rock’n’soul

party band that probably sound best when opening super-sized cans

of lager with your teeth. There’s no shame in it, mind: three

albums in and this foursome are probably the act most qualified

in the world to take the jams round the back of the pub and give

them a swift but thorough kicking.

Comprising a selection of songs recorded over the last decade

or so for various tinpot SoCal labels and now compiled, Hives-style,

by Alan McGee, ‘Meet The Bellrays’ is mostly recorded live in

rehearsal and mostly pretty excellent. Melding together throbbing

‘Raw Power’-era Stooges noise with the white knuckle velocity of
Henry Rollins‘ hardcore punk avatars Black Flag,
The Bellrays‘ music is way more than just

above-par garage-metal. It’s mostly down to

ex-jazz singer Lisa Kekaula’s voice: in an age where anaemic dolts

like James Walsh and even Danny McNamara are hailed as enduring vocal

talents, her gutsy Aretha Franklin-type blues wail is genuinely

astonishing. When bolstering the likes of dumbo garage stomp ‘They Glued

Your Head On’ or the suitably monolithic ‘Blues For Godzilla’ the

effect is nothing short of thrilling.

As the predictably gospel-tinged ‘Testify’ and some barely-thought-out

guff about mental ghettos attest, that Soul Powered revolution may

not exactly start here, but, brothers and sisters, when the music’s

this great who really cares?