When organist Hans Ingemansson relinquished songwriting and lead vocals to guitarist Robert Jelinek in the mid-’80s, picking up a new rhythm section in the bargain, Sweden’s premier modern beat-psych combo offhandedly changed names from the Backdoor Men to the Creeps and made a big splash in the small pond of garage punk devotees with the wickedly soulful and melodic Enjoy. The album includes several covers and numerous copped riffs, all interpolated into a powerful attack blatantly imitative of the Lyres while concurrently possessed of more range and greater attention to mood mechanics.
Several years later, the follow-up jettisoned virtually all the dirt and raunch in favor of an early funk bias to match the heavy soul pump and attitude now permeating the music. Still a terrific songwriter and strong vocalist, Jelinek rallied his backdoor troops in a high energy romp through the underside of the pop and “black” charts circa mid-to-late-’60s, albeit with ’80s urgency and production values. An interesting development, but Now Dig This! isn’t as good as the first LP, substituting style for rage, budget for exuberance.
Blue Tomato, the quartet’s first LP with an outside producer, only exacerbates the problem, offering up ’80s dancefloor style to further modify the gutsy, gusty organ-pumped brew for mall-goers in designer tags. Quite possibly the best Stax-oriented club band operating today, the Creeps are still a great loss in terms of compromised potential.