Pretty sassy for a bubblepunk group to call themselves Birdland and cover Patti Smith’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger,” but that’s exactly what these four bleached moptops from Coventry, England did. Joining the long line of British youth inspired by the Jesus and Mary Chain, Birdland (no relation to the Lester Bangs group of the same name) released several negligibly successful UK singles on the Lazy label — one-time home of the Primitives — before jumping ship to Radioactive Records in 1990.
Produced by Philip Tennant, Birdland is full of snotty posturing and likable power-pop riffs that invokes a bit of that J&M fervor but also borrows liberally from original new wavers like Generation X and Stiff Little Fingers. High points include “Shoot You Down,” “Hollow Heart” and the slash ‘n’ burn epic “Paradise,” wherein the band’s members — brothers Robert (vocals) and Lee Vince(nt) (guitar), Gene Kale (drums) and Syd Rogers (bass) — display some serious hooks. But no matter how desperately they want to be punks, Birdland still come off like a cookie-cutter Children of the Damned pop group. “Sleep With Me” (the single), “Beat Me Like a Star” and “She Belongs to Me” sound like tinny reproductions of the Stone Roses, and the Television-like intro of “Exit” (which actually makes you momentarily doubt the group’s artificiality) begets sophomoric couplets like, “I see the moon appear / I hear a voice and then you disappear.” The worst atrocity, besides Robert’s whiny-shit vocals, is the Patti Smith cover, in which these poseurs have the audacity to declare, “Birdland are rock ‘n’ roll niggers.” Indeed. After the album failed to catch fire, Birdland was dropped by their label and disbanded. The Birdland EP contains six songs, most of which also are on the full-length.
Kale and the Vince brothers were in Zodiac Motel, a group that recorded one forgotten album in the late ’80s.