This Manchester punk group’s classic “Cranked Up Really High” was the first 45 released by that city’s pioneering independent label, Rabid Records; Slaughter and the Dogs regularly gigged at London’s famed Roxy Club. (They appear in the punk documentary Don Letts filmed there.) About as talented as others in the second tier of ’77 punk (Adverts, Eater, Lurkers, etc.), this lot had enough juice to get through a neat string of poppy punk singles and one fine album.
Do It Dog Style, day-glo cover and all, is exciting, energetic rock’n’roll heavily indebted to the New York Dolls and Damned. Besides the band’s singles — “Dame to Blame,” “Quick Joey Small” (an incisive bubblegum cover with guest guitar by Mick Ronson) and the pulsating “Where Have All the Boot Boys Gone” (though not “Cranked” or “You’re Ready Now”) — the album includes de rigueur covers of “I’m Waiting for the Man” (fair) and the Dolls’ “Who Are the Mystery Girls” (wonderful), the latter also featuring Ronson. Simple, hooky songwriting plus Wayne Barrett’s endearingly zesty vocals helped distinguish the Dogs from lesser genre fare.
The band split, leaving guitarist Mike Rossi, bassist Howard Bates and future Cult axeman Billy Duffy to form the Studio Sweethearts. Slaughter reunited in late ’79, replacing Barrett with ex-Nosebleeds shouter Eddie Garrity (aka Ed Banger) in time for Bite Back, a nothing platter of guitar-rock noise produced by ex-Mott the Hoople drummer Dale Griffin. Garrity makes a good try, but he simply isn’t as effective as Barrett. The group quit for good in ’81.
Live at the Factory (later reissued as Rabid Dogs) is a posthumously released concert disc (with Barrett) that contains renditions of the band’s singles and flipsides, as well as superior early versions of four Bite Back tunes. Unlike the band, however, the sound quality is quite awful. A later three-song EP, mislabeled “Live in 77,” documents the same show’s encore: “Cranked Up Really High,” “Boot Boys” and the boppy “Twist and Turn.”
The Slaughterhouse Tapes is a belated scrapbook of outtakes, demos, live tracks and an interview, with studio versions of “Twist and Turn” and “White Light White Heat” to recommend it. The sound quality is flat and weak, but the music’s not. It’s reassuring to hear such unpretentious sincerity and hooky tunes from a band that’s all but forgotten.