They say that in life first impressions are everything, and when it comes to Oslo five-piece Gluecifer, for yours truly, that was most certainly the case.
I first encountered Gluecifer around a quarter of century ago, initially through a Rockpalast performance on (German TV channel) WDR early one Sunday morning after a night out in Abertillery Rock City. I was completely blown away by what I witnessed, not only by their rather unique take on the garage punk genre but also by the suave stylings of the band’s members, especially the ultracool onstage persona of singer Biff Malibu. I mean anyone who can wear white loafers and a red velour bowling shirt whilst ridiculing Joey DeMaio’s inability to drink a (piss weak) tin of beer is already a winner in life, right?
Having quickly taped this performance onto VHS for all my mates to see I then quickly invested in a copy of the band’s ‘Soaring With Eagles At Night To Rise With The Pigs In The Morning’ album and loved every second of it. Then, just a few short months later, me and my (pre) uber rockin’ amigo Gaz Tidey found ourselves stood stage front and centre watching the band live as they hit Newport’s Legendary TJ’s venue. This time around the guys were out on the road with Gaza Strippers promoting their then-new album ‘Tender Is The Savage’, and if they’d blown us away on TV playing live, nothing was about to prepare us for what they were like in the flesh. So, when drummer Danny Young decided that playing a gig in a fibreglass (pretend) cave somewhere in south Wales was also the best time to wear arseless leather trousers whilst at the climax of their set the guys also took a step back (they couldn’t take any more than that as they’d have been off the back of the stage) and unleashed an indoor firework display that must have set them back at least £3.50 of the tour budget, we fully understood why Gluecifer, really are the undisputed Kings of Rock.
Following on from that most eventful night, I went to see the band pretty much every time they toured the UK, and unlike some of my fellow Gluecifer fans who I have got to know through the years, I also thought they progressed as songwriters with each subsequent studio album they released, until in 2005 following the tour in promotion of their ‘Automatic Thrill’ album, they rather unexpectedly (to me at least) decided to call it a day. The world of rock was left with a giant Gluecifer shaped hole, something that not even the arrival of Bloodlights (guitarist Captain Poon’s excellent post Gluecifer band) could ever truly fill.
A posthumous Gluecifer compilation album ‘Kings Of Rock (B-Sides And Rarities)’ was released by Epic/People Like You back in 2008 and this is where the genesis of the idea behind the album I’m about to (finally) get around to reviewing first saw the light of day. That album (in their Norwegian homeland at least) took one album packed full of “hits” as its main selling point, then added a second album of deep cuts, whilst everywhere else in Europe it was that 16 track second album (with an added ‘Desolate City’ from LP number one) that hit the record shops as a standalone release.
Here in 2024 that rarities album has been expanded to a 24 track double LP/download, taking 14 of the tracks from the 2008 release and adding 10 new ones to the track listing, including some recorded during the sessions around the ‘Tender Is The Savage’ and ‘Basement Apes’ albums that have never previously been released.
Kicking off with (the aforementioned) ‘Desolate City’, which was the last track the band recorded together prior to them splitting up back in 2005, this track was penned for a Norwegian action movie named “Izzat” and since the guys reformed back in 2017 to play a series of live shows this tune has proven to be a particular set list favourite with fans. Listening to it again here in 2024 certainly reinforces my shock at the band splitting up back then, because as this tune proves, they really were going out on a high.
Not that there are any lows during the 23 other tracks that make up this compilation I trust you understand, as the band’s earlier tunes like the rip-roaring ‘Monoman’ (taken from the band’s debut ‘God’s Chosen Dealer’ single, which has all 3 of its tunes included here) sitting alongside the likes of ‘Beg Like The Dog You Are’ (previously unreleased from the ‘Tender Is The Savage’ sessions) make for a fascinating sonic voyage through the band’s deep cut back catalogue and their development as songwriters.
The songs I was particularly interested in hearing were the 3 previously unreleased tunes that didn’t make the cut during the recording of the ‘Basement Apes’ album. With this being my (when pushed to choose one) favourite Gluecifer album the harmonica honking ‘All The Young Droogs’ is an immediate “why didn’t this make the final album?” standout, whilst the almost Saxon-esque thunder of ‘The Hammer & The Wheel’ is also a winner, which just leaves the sassy strut of ‘(Gimme That) Good Butter’ (complete with some Stonesy female backing vocals) to close out ‘B-Sides & Rarities 1994-2005’ and illustrate once again that at the very heart of Gluecifer there was always more than just a balls out garage punk band.
At just shy of 1 hour and 20 minutes long there’s a hell of a lot to get through within the grooves of ‘B-Sides & Rarities 1994-2005’ so I’m going to leave you to fully discover what Captain Poon himself calls “a nice little treasure hunt”. It’s well worth investing your time and money in that’s for sure.
‘B-Sides & Rarities 1994-2005’ is available now on “slightly” silver double vinyl, tucked snugly into a gatefold sleeve via the link below, and you never know, if enough of us in the UK go out and buy this, Gluecifer might even think about playing the UK again (I have everything crossed here anyway).
Author: Johnny Hayward