Having played the legendary 1976 Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall show with the Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks they were actually one of the first UK punk bands to sign to a major label (Decca), and in 1978 (along with their then labelmates Cock Sparrer) they released their debut album ‘Do It Dog Style’. To this day though it’s hardly ever Slaughter & The Dogs (or for that matter Sparrer) who get name-checked in any punk nostalgia pieces run by the mainstream media, and always the likes of The Clash, The Damned, and of course the compulsory Sex Pistols. I wonder why? As ‘Do It Dog Style’ really is something of a stone-cold “classic” album from that first wave of UK punk.
Formed in 1976 around the creative axis of school mates (singer) Wayne Barrett and (guitarist) Mick Rossi, Slaughter And The Dogs actually took their name from two of Barrett’s favourite albums Mick Ronson’s ‘Slaughter on 10th Avenue’ and ‘David Bowie’s ‘Diamond Dogs’ and after adding bassist Howard ‘Zip’ Bates and drummer Brian ‘Mad Muffet’ Grantham to their line up it wasn’t long before they were playing shows like the aforementioned Free Trade Hall gamechanger along with the likes of The Hope & Anchor and the Roxy in London.
Releasing their blistering debut single ‘Cranked Up Really High’ through indie label Rabid Records in May 1977 it was this important stepping stone that saw Dogs snapped up by Decca and almost immediately they had ‘Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone’ released as a single and were sent out on tour with fellow Manchurians The Drones offering up the prospect of Slaughter On The Streets for those lucky enough to snap up a ticket.
Two singles later ‘Dame To Blame’ and ‘Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)’ (the latter featuring their hero Mick Ronson) and an early 1978 tour of the UK with the also criminally underrated Eater in support it was finally in June of that year that ‘Do It Dog Style’ hit the shelves….a week after (well, if legend is to be believed) the band split up.
And herein is the reason why I think Slaughter And The Dogs are not looked upon with the same sense of reverence as many of their punk rock peers. With the guys never achieving any of the sales figures or tabloid infamy of their former gig mates the UK music press always seemed to stop well short of affording them the rightful respect they deserved. Hence this 3CD set (from the always reliable Captain Oi!/Cherry Red joint venture) which finally fully celebrates the ‘Do It Dog Style’ album in all its expanded glory should be an immediate addition to any music fan’s collection. I’ve had it on vinyl for years – but here with an additional 29 tracks added in the shape of early singles, demos and live performances I don’t think it’s ever been afforded such an in-depth or (in fact) loving tribute.
Disc one is ‘Do It Dog Style’ in full, kicking off with the frantic bass driven ‘Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone’ which for me is still right up there with ‘Neat Neat Neat’ as a true anthem of 1977 and along with tracks like ‘Boston Babies’, ‘’I’m Mad’ and ‘We Don’t Care’ the glam meets punk riffing and lyrics of Rossi and Barrett truly shine…and again if I’m totally honest it has more than a little in common with the early days of their then label mates Cock Sparrer. For the uninitiated it’s perhaps the band’s choice of covers that best exemplify their sound and influences with Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ and New York Dolls’ ‘Who Are The Mystery Girls’ (once again complete with Ronno on guitar) both given a “Dog Style” makeover, the latter being perhaps one of the best Dolls cover versions of all time. I kid you not.
Disc two brings together 19 non-album tracks which includes the ‘Cranked Up Really High’ debut single, plus their two song contribution (‘Run Away’ and a truly savage Boston Babies’) to the seminal ‘Live At The Roxy WC2’ LP. Plus, there’s a whole host of non-LP B-sides, the scarce ‘It’s Alright’ EP and studio demos to keep even the diehards happy.
If this wasn’t enough there’s also the raw sounding third disc ‘Live Slaughter Rabid Dogs’ to help round things off. This ten song, 38 minute blast of live energy was recorded in Manchester in 1977 and originally released the following year by Rabid Records and sound wise it is streets ahead of most live recordings from that period – I swear you can almost hear the whistle of the pint glasses flying at the band prior to ‘Victims Of The Vampire’. It’s brutal stuff that’s for sure and also a fitting way to bring this most handsome of deluxe CD sets to a close, as during a reprise of ‘We Don’t Care’ the gig appears to end in total chaos, not unlike the band themselves would seemed to make a habit of it in the decades that followed.
‘Do It Dog Style’ – if you know, you know.
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Author: Johnny Hayward