Scotland’s Rezillos were a blast of fresh air compared to the more serious bands of new wave’s first charge. Initially formed as the Knutsford Dominators by students at the Edinburgh College of Art, the group was partial to an overhauled ’60s look (e.g., foil mini-skirts, pop-art fabrics) and songs with titles like “Flying Saucer Attack,” “Destination Venus” and “Top of the Pops.” Can’t Stand the Rezillos is an action-packed document of their pop/camp approach. Thrashings of the Dave Clark 5’s “Glad All Over” and Gerry & the Pacemakers’ “I Like It” surround “(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures,” a typically loopy original.
The band flew apart not long after their album debut, leaving the live Mission Accomplished as an unsatisfactory memorial. Besides duplicating six tunes from Can’t Stand, the record is plagued by near-bootleg-quality sound. Otherwise the performance is a rave-up from start to finish, with five new originals and versions of the Kinks’ “I Need You,” Cannibal & the Headhunters’ “Land of 1,000 Dances” and even Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz.” The 1993 CD combines the studio album, all but one song from the live record and both sides of the “Destination Venus” single.
Fortunately, singers Fay Fife (real name: Sheilagh Hynde) and Eugene Reynolds (real name: Alan Forbes) regrouped with new musicians as the Revillos, and took the Rezillos’ promise even further. Rev Up is filled with pastiches of ’60s genres — “Bobby Come Back to Me,” “On the Beach,” “Secret of the Shadow,” “Motorbike Beat” — and the obligatory non-originals — “Cool Jerk,” “Hungry for Love,” “Hippy Hippy Sheik” [sic]. The only foul touch is retitling the Rock-a-Teens’ “Woo-Hoo” as “Yeah Yeah” and pawning it off as an original. But Rev Up is hilarious.
Attack!, the band’s long-playing swansong, shows signs of strain. Some tunes (“Sputnick Kiss,” “Man Attack!,” “Your Baby’s Gone”) are as delightful as ever; others (“Mad From Birth to Death,” the instrumental “Man Hunt”) are decidedly slight. If there’s another non-original besides the Exciters’ “Tell Him,” it’s virtually indistinguishable from the rest, not only because of stylistic similarity but by the absence of songwriter credits anywhere on the album. For sheer sustained obsession with a Toontown ’60s approach, though, the Rezillos deserve a tinfoil merit badge.
When the Rezillos split into vocal and instrumental factions, the latter became Shake. A trio led by founding guitarist Jo Callis (who’d penned 90 percent of the Rezillos’ originals) and later including Troy Tate, Shake overreacted to their ex-bandmates’ frivolity by playing their loud’n’fastisms deadpan on the 10-inch Shake EP. Second mistake: Callis let the other two write. Third mistake: dull sound. Smart move: breaking up. Smarter move (for Callis): joining the Human League.
SWALK, a quartet featuring Callis after his superstardom sojourn in Human League plus the Rezillos/Shake’s old drummer, wanted to revive glitter-rock really badly — and did so, really badly. In all fairness, “No Shame” is goodish Gary Glitterism, but doesn’t justify the rest of the ordeal (or a “dub” version, either).
In 2002, the original Rezillos regrouped for a US tour.