1. Porno Movies
2. A Madman Wrecked My Happy Home
3. Nothing Is Straight In My House
4. Digging A Hole
5. I Couldn’t Help Myself
6. Paint The Town Electric
7. Nylon Pirates
8. Bang On
9. Taking Tea With Aphrodite
10. Passing Strange
11. Garden Dark
12. Where Is My Monkey
13. Nothing Is Straight (Slight Return)
If you know your history, you’ll know that it wasn’t snotty English boys who invented puck rock – punk rock was festering on the Eastern seaboard of the US years before Sid ever got vicious, back in the days when Johnny was still brushing his teeth. But, what remains little acknowledged is that almost simultaneously with the growth of the buzzsaw pop of the Ramones, an Aussie Band, the Saints, were making one of the definitive punk rock sounds in the urban wasteland of Brisbane, Australia – an almost identical formula for the music, generated sui generis.
The early Saints records ate brash, thundering, inventive and life affirming. As a schism enveloped the band, seeing guitarist and song-writer Ed Keupper leave for a very productive solo career, singer Chris Bailey plundered ahead, reforming and recreating the Saint wherever necessary and scoring some more middle of the road chart success in the mid to late 80’s as well as making osme excellent solo records.
By the late 90’s, though, Bailey had tired of his celtic/pop noodlings and he decided to reclaim the Saints’ mantle as rockers of the first rank. “Nothing is Straight In My House” is the culmination of those efforts – a fine blend of tough playing, menacing guitar, snarling vocals and barbed literate songs that, if not as ferocious in timbre as the first Saints album, certainly rock out with a forthright and unpretentious grace.
The opening assault of “Porno Movies” is a clear statement of intent, Bailey barking derangedly while Marty Wilson-Piper (guitar, ordinarily of The Church) crunches in the late 90’s idiom and the backline of Pete Wilkinson and Casper Winjberg pummel the beat mercilessly. Bailey is in top songwriting form as well, with “Nylon Pirates”, “Paint the Town Electric” and “A Madman wrecked my happy home” each as good as anything he’s written. “Bang On”, especially, is a slice of prime demented rock and roll the likes of which the world seemed to have forgotten in the hip hop obsessed late 90’s.
Even his detours to more conventional pop material (“I couldn’t help myself”, “Garden Dark” “Taking Tea with Aphrodite”) fit well into the album and remain just edgy enough to sit well alongside the rougher stuff. Bailey’s voice, also, holds up spectacularly well across the album, yowling and howling with crackling glee.
Of course, it isn’t perfect – the production is slightly too polite, a touch to polished in spots to match the fire that the band is playing with – ramshackle becomes this music and it should be allowed its head in places. But that’s a quibble and a small one at that. For one of the great unknown band of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, this was to prove something of a swansong – none of the follow up efforts (pleasant as they were) were able to truly capture the sleazy grace or the gallows humor or the plain old hard rocking ethic of this record. So, The Saints remain an essential pleasure for anyone interested in edgy, questing straight rock coming out of the mid 70’s and while their first three albums ((I’m) Stranded, Eternally Yours and Prehistoric Sounds) remain the essential ones, “Nothing is straight in my House” is as good next point for departure in the catalog of this wonderful band from Down Under.