Young Heart Attack : Manchester Roadhouse

Fuck me, this should be absolutely horrific...

Fuck me, this should be absolutely horrific. Stage left, Young Heart Attack’s handlebar-moustachioed greaseball guitarist Frenchie is pulling Who-style windmills, brandishing his guitar like he’s the first to realise it makes a neat phallic symbol and fret-wanking the sort of squiggly solos that’d make the Hawkins brothers wet the bed with worry. Meanwhile, stage right, shaggy-haired co-vocalist Chris Hodge is eyeballing bassist Steven T Hall as they ‘bop’ in unison like Status Quo at their most ‘Rocking All Over The World’-evil. Committing such heinous crimes against stage etiquette with no thumbs up or knowing winks, it’s clear these Texan rednecks couldn’t even spell irony, let alone know its meaning. However, it’s within this unwitting honesty that YHA’s strength lies.

Barefoot, be-mulleted and as slinky as a greased-up eel, singer Jennifer Stephens is the sex-bomb who drags YHA by the nads out of this car-crash of clichéd contrivance. When her shrill vocals are aligned with Chris Hodge’s Robert Plant squawk on widescreen, BBQ-flavoured rock’n’roll cluster bombs like ‘Misty Rowe’ and ‘Tommy Shots’, the adjective ‘explosive’ doesn’t even come close to describing the results. ‘El Camino’ and ‘Starlite’ hammer home the fact that a great riff is, lest we forget, eternally a great riff, seeing Young Heart Attack shamelessly pilfer from their idols – Led Zep, AC/DC, Rainbow – with such a freewheeling sense of hard-rocking exuberance that they (just about) get away with it. Fittingly, their best song is a cover of MC5’s seminal ‘Over And Over’ – where pints are launched skywards, Jennifer drags a couple of local fashionistas onstage to sing backing vocals and the Roadhouse appears as if it’s been transported to some Texan backwater.

These are songs to shag to, get drunk to and then shag to again, harder. In-between enduring Franz Ferdinand’s serious, arty posturing and pouring over the ambiguous social leanings of Morrissey’s new tunes, you should make some room in your life for a band like Young Heart Attack. A cheap, sleazy ‘Mouthful Of Love’ now and again is good for the rock’n’roll soul.

Rick Martin