Saturday, 31 October 2009

London - Non-Stop Rock (1985)

1. Dirty City
2. Non-Stop Rock
3. Werewolves in London
4. It's Rock N' Roll
5. Stand Back
6. No Tell Motel
7. Party in Hollywood
8. Masters of the Airwaves
9. Radio Stars

Man, London must've been the most unlucky bunch (probably bigger than bunch, whatever that is?) of spandex & lipstick wearing, shiny-ass sleazeballs ever to crawl around the sunset strip. In fact, they didn't crawl man; they were flash-metal kings, glam gods, "Masters of the Airwaves". Well, maybe not masters (took these dudes 12 years to get a damn video on the 'ol fuzz box!), but at places like the Starwood (they became the regular house band), they owned the fucking joint! They had the gear and enough chops, killer riffs, and they had the L.A. glambanger look nailed down. London were the kind of 80s band that wore so much make-up and hairspray that people probably died due to Aqua-Net inhalation or drowned under globs of Maybelline infested sweat in front of the stage at places like the Roxy or the Whiskey. They influenced ALOT of fellow L.A. metalheads, fucked ALOT of chicks and were a sort of stepping stone if you will, paving the way for bands that are now regarded as friggin' rock legends! Lizzie Grey famously turned down Axl Rose for the vocalist spot, 'coz he didn't think the ginger nut job could sing!

Formed in 1978 London originally comprised of; Lizzie Grey (guitar), formerly of Tear Garden; Nikki Sixx (bass), Blackie Lawless (guitar), Dane Rage (drums) and was rounded out with Michael White (vocals).

They were clearly heavily influenced by The Sweet, NY Dolls & Mott The Hoople, but had developed a grittier, more dangerous sound comparable to the likes of pretty-boy, flash-metal gods, Ratt and Motley Crue.

Line-up changes would dog them their entire career, first White left to form the ill-fated and stupidly named "The White", Blackie Lawless would leave to form legendary metal monsters W.A.S.P. Nikki Sixx then opted out, taking with him the Lizzie Grey penned "Public Enemy #1" and became an MTV darling with Hollywood hell raisers Motley Crue.
More band members came and went, (more on that later) replacements came and went until screecher Nadir D'Priest (vocals), Brian West (bass) and Fred Coury (drums) joined a battered and bruised Lizzie Grey.


In 1985, for good 'ol Mike Varney's guitar-wank Shrapnel label, they managed to keep the line-up together long enough to record what is in my opinion, the greatest glam-rock record ever committed to the black stuff. "Non-Stop-Rock" did exactly what is said on tin. Album opener "Dirty City" clocked in at around 2mins35, and practically slid into my head, got hammered, smashed a TV against my skull and had sex with my brain! Once that was over, along came the title track...the kind of song that gives a man that uncontrollable urge to go out dressed like a $2 dollar hooker and fight for no reason at all. (Maybe to fight that mystical heavy metal war bands are always bangin' on about?) Then, the third track is ALMOST a ballad, but it isn't, not really. "Werewolves In London"!! Fuck, these cats had never even been outta L.A. never mind rainy, shitty 'ol rat city London. All we can guess is that maybe Lizzie was watching that horror flick "American Werewolf In London" a bit to much, so as you've already figured it out unless you are an inbred retard is, that this song is about.....werewolves.....and they’re in....LONDON! Anyway, the song kick-ass and starts all creepy and atmospheric and someone filmed some grainy video for it at some club, with smoke everywhere, choking the shit out of everyone in the front row! But that's what it's all about right? Other highlights of this glitter-glazed monster include "Radio Stars", (possibly London's attempt at achieving that actual title) a poppy little number that sounds like Bowie or Bolan on Acid. "No Tell Motel" is the other stand-out. Goddamnn!!! Even L.A. Guns and Motley woulda killed for a raunchy, sleaze gem like this to add to their arsenal. It pre-dates all those raven-haired heroin whores in cowboy boots and Sid Vicious t-shirts with its hotel room debauchery, drug-addled desperation and oh yeah….suicide!! The type of song that makes suicide seem cool and rather fun (as long as it's in a motel room full of sluts, snorting coke off each other's ass-cracks and your hair is teased up to hell!) All in all, the London debut rocks!

All was not well though, (even before the album) people weren't getting on. Everyone thought London were going to hit it big just like Motley Crue, Ratt & Poison, and they should have been but they just couldn't keep it together...

London's Revolving Door Policy:
London's list of members pretty much reads like a who's who (and a who never did) of hairspray, hotshot rock n' rollers. Hell, I think only fuckin' Black Sabbath can touch these guys for the amount of fella's that either left/got fired/re-hired/were total shit/or probably fuckin' died!
Here's a list of some of the bastards, most of whom bit the hand that fed 'em and some who stuck it out 'til that bitter end.......
Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.); Nigel Benjamin (Mott the Hoople); Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue); Fred Coury (Cinderella); Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler, & Slash (Guns ‘N Roses); Leslie Knauer (Precious Metal); Desi Valentine & Nigel Itson(D’Molls); John Ward (Madam X); Vince Gilbert (Jag Wire/Cult) John St. John; Tim Yasui; Michael White......err.......there's actually far too many, but you get the idea!
Ex Drummer Dane Rage left in the early 80s to become a fucking inventor and now has his own toy company!!

Now and again, even guitarist and London mainman Lizzie Grey would get sick of the band and wound up playing in an early version of Blackie Lawless' Sister around 1981 and also St. Valentine around '83.

When Nigel Benjamin left, he ended up recording with a band called Sorcery, who sound tracked heavy-metal splatter flick "Rocktober Blood" in 1988 (banned in Australia 'til the mid 90's don't ya know)

By 1986, the band line-up had fluctuated again, only slightly though'. Fred Coury went to bang skins for Cinderella so in came "Wailin' J Morgan" (you can't make this shit up!), who lasted just one album, the Kim Fowley produced "Don't Cry Wolf" and looked like he’d been fuckin' electrocuted on the cover (which he was barely on!) and they missed him off on the back, so he must've had a clue he was a goner. "Don't Cry Wolf" also has a fuckin' wolf on the cover, and a super-imposed one at that! I'm sure they could've used a real wolf! A wolf isn’t gonna want to chow down on any Ray Brown produced silk garments, max factor flesh and dyed hair is it?? Surely not??

"Don't Cry Wolf" is pretty much carries on where London left off on the debut, it kicks ass! Well, the first side does anyway, firing off with the proto-metal blast that is "Drop Me The Bomb" which is about some woman dropping a bomb i think (there's so many about women and bombs ain't there?), now I don't have a clue at all what that means, it could mean anything frankly. This bitch could of 'fessed up 'bout cheating on one of our hairspray heroes, she could be knocked up or maybe she's just let one off???
"Set Me Free" & "Hit and Run Lover" & "Under The Gun" are quite similar in that they are all rollercoaster rides of swaggering, frantic, glam madness and from these first four tracks you can see how fantastic Lizzi Grey is as a guitar player. Then the London boys go a bit sour ...."Oh Darling".....Fucking Beatles cover man! I must let it be known now how much I hate John "dirt hippie" Lennon and Paul "look how rich I am now Johnny's dead" McCartney!
This song is shit, what's worse is that London's version sounds almost like a fucked up 50's doo-wop song! So, we flip over to side two. That's better. "Fast As Light" most certainly is and this album in places almost borders on speed-metal, which is killer!
"Killing Time" is about some cheatin' bitch fucking around with men who have hairy chests and medallions and "stink of cheap cologne", so it's cool, I can relate to that.
The other track worth a mention is "For Whom The Bell Tolls" (No not that one!), which was a track actually written by a Mr. Blackie Lawless, W.A.S.P. didn't use it until the remaster of their 1989 stonker "The Headless Children", (it was cut from the original LP) and is a very cool track, it bobs along at a steady pace, but there's some broody/moody shit going on there definitely.

Notably, the band made an appearance in the Penelope Spheeris film "Decline Of The Western Civilization II: The Metal Years” (1988) performing "Russian Winter" and the excellent "Breakout", they are also interviewed whilst slightly intoxicated.
The D'Priest version of the band also make an appearance in "Hollywood Boulevard II" (1989), performing the the song "Nothing Happens".

After "Don't Cry Wolf" didn't cry anything, Lizzie got disenchanted with his baby and left in the L.A. wilderness in 1988*. He went on to form Ultra-pop, which later became the amazing Spiders & Snakes with Lizzie on vocals, who were just as glam and spaced out as London! So, what happened to the rest of 'em, well they all fucked off again apart from D'Priest who got another batch of hired guns to play on the London merry-go-round, eventually naming the band after himself** (cuz D'Priest is way cooler a name than London.....right???errr??) They released "Playa Del Rock" in 1990 on the Noise International label and it went nowhere. It pains me to say this but, "Playa Del Rock" is total shit. They had toned down the image, they had toned down the rock, it was watered down so bad you could probably Drinka-Del Rock! There is one song that is awesome tho', when played loud it can take you away to a magical desert landscape, with horses and a big Mexican dude in a black dress waving all over the godamn place (that's the video!). "Ride You Through The Night", what a way to sign out guys! What a song! Actually, "Russian Winter" and "It's So Easy" (no not that one either!) are bloody good as well, but what follows that opening salvo is poppy, mediocre barf ladies and gents!

The band finally called it a day by the end of 1991, thus ending the London legacy.

**D'Priest popped up again recently claiming London was back and was working on a new album, but that was 3 years ago now, plus he's all old and he's cut his hair(!) an it'll be shit, so I don't give a flying monkey fuck! (Sorry Nadir!)

*About 2 years back I also spent some time e-mailing Lizzie about his "London Daze" and and about a demo I had of "Rainbow Bar & Girls" a song which had been re-recorded and butchered by Nadir D'Priest and some rapper friends(!) trying to capture that whole Aerosmith/Run DMC thing, but obviously failing miserably. Lizzie was cool, took time out and was a complete gentleman......A true rock n' roll survivor.


© Flash Metal Circus

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