The debut album from Glasgow’s The Rulers of The Root was an excellent disc which saw the band roaming around territory populated by the likes of Ian Dury, Captain Beefheart and Nick Cave although they played as if they were a bunch of Martians who had learned their licks via satellite transmission in between watching reruns of Taggart. Some songs were couched in a surreal simulacrum of Americana music with odd snippets of Glaswegiana thrown in, the Broomielaw and The Scotia Bar featuring in Rose of Jericho for example. The follow up album, This Sugar Tit Life, presses on in this direction although it’s a much more focussed album with the majority of the songs rooted in bluesy rock or neon lit late night wierdness with some sixties garage band snottiness thrown in for good measure.
Patrick Gillies, their gravel throated singer and late blooming songwriter, remains at the helm of the ship. His flights of fancy, lyrical conundrums and plain old absurdity command attention throughout while as a singer he is much more in command here – growling, lascivious, lashing the words for all they are worth. Meanwhile his colleague, guitarist John Palmer, paints the songs with splashes of colour with corkscrewed blues, growling rock’n’roll and reverbed twang guitar dashing throughout the album while the rhythm section of Chris Quinn and Stewart Moffat ably adapt to the myriad of forms the songs take on.
At their simplest the band come across as an excellent tight knit combo as on the boogie of Cain Made This Town which belts along as if it just skipped out of Memphis while the title song is a hard stomping blues number with Gillies sounding like Beefheart roaring out on Hard Working Man from the movie Blue Collar. Give The Dog a Bone is a Bo Diddley buzz cut of a song with the guitars slashing and burning across a ferocious beat while Yoker Tam is powered by a taut and driving bass and drums which are almost Krautrock in their precision with a glistening guitar sheen running throughout it.
However, it’s when Gillies lets fly his imagination when the band really take off. Govanhill Lullaby kicks off with a Morricone like spaghetti western sweep as he gathers up the media painted detritus of this much-maligned neighbourhood and spews it out in a Technicolor dream with regular keyboard player Alan French adding some excellent garage band Farfisa stabs. Meanwhile The Lubyanka Blues is an Aesop fable from hell with the band coming across like The Band fronted by Screaming Jay Hawkins. On several of the songs the band slow down and slither through a twilight zone as if they were in a David Lynch soundtrack. The Gap creeps along with a louche touch of evil and Night of the Hunter has some Dr. John voodoo hoodoo about it but the best effort here is the magnificent Face of an Angel. Think of the magnificently stained noirish quality of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil and transport it to Glasgow and you are halfway there. Here Gillies inhabits perfectly a loathsome character who is perversely attractive, narcissistic to the extreme and who, “Feeds amphetamine to his pigeons/yes he’s guilty of that deed/but the doos are his religion and they seem to like their seed.” Just awesome.
The album is released today with a launch gig at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe. Tickets here.