|The Meteors, Godfathers of Psychobilly
To my Big Brother "The BlackCat" I mentioned that The Meteors are missing from his Hall of Fame. He just answered that they were never his kind of band, but he agreed on the fact that they were, and are, very important to the history of Neo-Rockabilly, and Psychobilly in particular. I suggested to write this episode for his Hall of Fame.
In the early 80s, me and my brother were heavily into Rockabilly. After seeing Black Cat live on stage, we were hooked, and Rock & Roll was all we listened to or talked about. My brother preferred the old guys, like Johnny Burnette, Eddy Cochran and Gene Vincent, but I listened to the upcomming Neo-Rockabilly of that time. We shared bands like The Blue Cats, The Shakin' Pyramids and Whirlwind but I, being in my puberty, wanted more.
My good friend "Tooly" brought home a record wich would change my perspective of Rockabilly music: "In Heaven". For a while it was all we listened to. Songs like "Maniac" and "Shout So Loud" seemed to describe our state of mind quite accurate. To most of our friends, The Meteors were "a bit too much" but that did not stop us. For a while even Frans "Red Elvis" banned the album from our clubhouse (Rocking Rebels). He called it punk and saw no relation to his holy Rock & Roll.
Frans was probably right. The speed, loudness, lyrics and energy had little to do with his beloved Elvis Presley. Songs about zombies (Death Dance) or futuristic invaders who would kill us all (Teenagers From Outer Space) were not understood by the older rockabilly generation, but we loved it and every time Frans was out, the record came on!
Because the majority of the R&R scene did not relate to The Meteors, they stopped playing at R&R concerts and festivals. Very soon P. Paul Fenech and his band began touring with the punkbands of that time, like The Clash and The Damned. The hardcore fans called it "Psychobilly" and the break with classic Rockabilly was definite. Probably for that reason we never saw The Meteors live in that era.
By the time the album "Wrecking Crew" was released, P. Paul Fenech was already a living legend to us. Songs like "Insane", "Axe Attack" and "Zombie Noise" were the logical next step. The track "Sick Things" even stretches far beyond the limit of acceptance for the regular R&R fans, but with a fantastic cover of John Leyton's "Johnny, Remenber Me" he provided a song especially for them. Even my Big Brother loved that track, and finally we shared The Meteors...
Although more appreciated by the punks than by the Rockabilly fans, The Meteors kept their identity. The rythm and the slapbass always stayed, and P. Paul Fenech refused to participate in political statements, like most of the punk-bands and -events did at that time. The Meteors were about music and having a party...
When I visited the Hells Angels event of the year in Europe "Free Wheels" in 2010, I was pleasantly surprised that The Meteors were on the bill. Although 30 years later, P. Paul Fenech did not lose any energy. There was no blood-spitting, like he did in the 80s, and he lost the horrible yel in the chorus of "Shout So Load" but he played his guitar like a mad man. If Chuck Berry played like ringing a bell, I would describe this performance like handling a machine gun, trying to kill everyone around him. Many of the songs from "In Heaven" and "Wrecking Crew" were played, so I could sing along a lot.
Thanks to my dear friend Frank I was able to get backstage and meet the legend himself. Although he still looks like a mad man, we had a nice conversation and he was actually surprised he made such a huge impression on us 30 years earlier. What surprised me is that he is just 2 years older then me, so he must have been an adolescent himself when he started.
The Meteors, you love them or you hate them, but one thing is certain: they influenced a lot of lives and bands. I think they belong in the Hall of Fame on this website!
The 2010 Meteors are:
Source: My own experience & a bit of googling around...