Originally out a quarter of a century ago makes me feel old as fuck. However, slipping into my Kensington Market PVC jeans and sharpening my boots guyliner then spraying my Aqua Net before leaving the house it feels like yesterday, a time when just about anything was possible.
Pre-mobile phones (just), pre-internet, pre-grunge, and Soho was still a wonderful seedy adventure as was Camden. Those places still had character – certainly not the sterile hipster coffee shop or Vape emporiums of today. Back then Rock ‘n’ Roll was still a little different if you wanted it to be and without the interweb bands like Paradise Alley were like pirates sailing the seven seas looking for like-minded allies of which there were plenty, every town and backwater village had one or two but they didn’t have the internet to join forces. Until now.
Lumped in with the whole glam rock scene that wrongly pigeonholed the likes of Hanoi Rocks as glam in the same breath they would put Poison or God forbid Danger Danger or even a Tigertailz. Although pretty much poles apart (tigertailz and Paradise Alley) influence wise (with a few exceptions) they had to stick together and I guess there are comparisons with the two Stevies they both have similar gruff deliveries in their melodies and vocal style but musically Paradise Alley was dining out on Hanoi and their siblings such as Shooting Gallery or Kill City Dragons, not any surprise to see Damian Cullen set up camp with members of these other bands later on. Anyway, Not so much the punky side of Hanoi but a more American influenced guitar sound Paradise Alley certainly had a punk rock attitude like on ‘Shot Down’.
They were dedicated you have to give them that. It might not always have been about the music but those were the times we were in and the image played a massive part in this kind of music and all these years later I applaud those who stuck to their guns and lived it like they loved it and stayed true to who they were and that can certainly be said of several members of this band.
I like the street balladeering of ‘Empty Spaces’, A little cheesy at times and cliched – for sure, but isn’t any city boy knocking out a duet of this kind? All these years later it sounds alright maybe even better with a tinge of nostalgia. To be fair I like ‘Leave Me Alone’ its more the whole punk rock ‘n’ roll thing that I loved at the time had they hit Soho a few years earlier they might have stood a good chance of joining bigger bands from the era. The kings of punk ‘n’ sleaze in the late 80’s had to be the Soho Roses for me but even they bowed out supporting Tigertailz and the real gems were Gunfire Dance who themselves toured with the Welsh Glamsters. Wrong time wrong place maybe who knows. They reached for the stars and had their fifteen minutes of fame and lived to tell the tales.
This reissue is bolstered by adding the acoustic ‘Baby Don’t Go’ which is cool as is their take on ‘Shakes’ which to be fair is spot on and bang on the money as far as covers go. To be fair these demos put onto the end of this sound great and if I might be cheeky enough to suggest are the best songs on here (Hanoi cover aside) ‘Family Ties’ is good as is the closing track ‘Leave Me Alone’ which has a great guitar sound that the band should have used on the earlier tracks in my humble opinion. That Joe Dog clank is far better suited to the band’s style.
Good work Stevie and the boys for reissuing this lot you should be proud and staying true to themselves. Anyone who ever wandered from the Ship to the Intrepid Fox and round the block to the Marquee wearing Chelsea boots suckin’ on a cigarette thinking they were the coolest kid in town this is for you. I look back fondly on those times and these tracks make me smile in a good way. Thanks for such great memories guys and some top tunes whilst I reminisce on what was a ‘Psychotic Playground’.