Wayne County and the Electric Chairs - The Safari Years (4 x CD Cherry Red)
I’m more familiar with Jayne County’s solo work than I am with the early Electric Chairs albums. So, this release from Cherry Red collecting up the albums released on the Safari label seemed like a good way of playing catch up.
The Electric Chairs were portrayed as being part of the Punk movement and I’m sure titling one of your first releases “Fuck Off” probably helped with that. But really their roots were more glam and theatrical than punk. Wayne/Jayne had made her name being part of the Warhol crew, appearing in a Jackie Curtis play, and then in Warhol’s Pork. She moved to the UK in 1977 at just the right time to form a band and get a record deal and then landed a part in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee.
A productive couple of years saw Jayne and the Electric Chairs put out three studio albums followed by a live one. Things slowed down after that but Jayne was still putting out albums as good as Deviation in the mid-90s and her live show was always an entertaining mix of songs and hilarious gossip.
The albums here show some signs of their age but all contain some real classics that last time I saw Jayne she was still playing. The first album The Electric Chairs contains some of the best-known pieces such as the wonderfully scathing “Bad In Bed” and the 50s pastiche “Eddie and Sheena”. Add to that “Max’s Kansas City”, “Fuck Off” and the Ramones like “Rock N Roll Cleopatra” and you have enough reasons to own this album. The follow up “Storming the Gates of Heaven” was a step forward musically with more than a nod towards early Alice Cooper but doesn’t sustain the energy and clever song writing for the whole of it’s length but there’s still enough to make it worth getting to know. Their third album “Things Your Mother Never Told You”, is an album that has two very different sides. The first side has what you would expect from the band with the garage band sound from the first album. The second side is a far more experimental affair with the band embracing more unusual sounds, drum machines and synths to get a far more “out there” collection of tracks. “Berlin” (had Jayne been listening to Bowie’s Low?) “C3” and “Think Straight” are very different beasts to “Toilet Love”.
The set closes with Rock n Roll Resurrection a live show from 1979 that runs through the best of the bands songs and some not on these albums but classics in their own right such as “Cream in my Jeans” and “Fucked By the Devil”.
This is a great collection of the Electric Chairs albums and every album in here has tracks that have become staples of Jayne’s live shows for many years and not without good reason. DB