Britain’s Inmates had a big American radio hit in 1979 with a cover of the Standells’ “Dirty Water”; overall, their records sound like a cross between early Stones and early Dave Edmunds. Drawing on realistic-sounding originals plus well-chosen oldies, the Inmates don’t offer anything new, but make good, primal rock’n’roll. First Offence contains “Dirty Water” as well as Jimmy McCracklin’s “The Walk” and Don Covay’s “Three Time Loser” (one of several tracks employing the Rumour brass section). Thanks, no doubt, to common icons, there are audible similarities to everyone from Creedence Clearwater to Robert Gordon.
Adding a permanent drummer to the lineup, the Inmates made Shot in the Dark, dredging up the old Jagger/Richards gem, “So Much in Love,” the Music Machine’s “Talk Talk” and some real obscurities. Fun, but too faceless to make any difference.
Singer Bill Hurley went off to form a group called the Big Heat, and the Inmates pressed on for a while with original Eddie and the Hot Rods vocalist Barrie Masters. The 1984 live album reprises both the Inmates’ best-known tracks (“Dirty Water,” “The Walk”) and the early Hot Rods’ (Bob Seger’s “Get Out of Denver”), adding the Doors’ “Love Me Two Times” and some originals.
After the Big Heat cooled down, Hurley made a solo album in collaboration with ex-Count Bishops axeman Johnny Guitar. A little of this (R&B, soul) and that (sentimental country), the solid but plain Double Agent features contributions from Inmates guitarist Peter Gunn.
Hurley and the other original Inmates reconvened in the late ’80s and recorded Fast Forward with the band’s old producer, Vic Maile, shortly before his death.