THE HELLACOPTERS – “Payin’ The Dues” LP, White Jazz Records, 1997

I still remember the day I bought this. I was in Melbourne seeing my girlfriend at the time and we went to the city to do the usual; buy records, clothes, movies, books, etc. I walked into Au-Go-Go Records in Melbourne and saw it, sitting there, in all its glory. I picked it up and took it to the counter. It had just been released so I was pretty happy with my find. If there was one band that was made for the vinyl format, it was this band, Sweden’s own rock n roll legends, The Hellacopters.

The packaging of this LP looks sweet as. The gatefold cover has the flames, logo and song titles in an embossed type while the inside has the band in MC5 pose ala Kick Out The Jams. Nice quality cover and the insert has the lyrics on one side and a small stamp sized photo on the other of Fred “Sonic” Smith (from the MC5 and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band). Most importantly though, the real quality here is the sonic awesomeness of the smoke coloured vinyl (limited to 2000 copies). When I got this home, I put this on the stereo and immediately could tell just how amazing the vinyl was over the CD. I remember at the time my girlfriend saying to me “Wow! What do they (the Hellacopters) do to make their records sound better than other bands?” I had no answer. All I can think of is that Nicke is an afficionado when it comes to analog recording and no doubt kept a watchful eye over the process to make sure it was of a standard he would expect from the bands he loves.

After repeated listens, it was quite apparent that this album had snuck in to the top 5 records, in my opinion, of the greatest rock n roll records of the 90’s. At a time when things had gotten a little dull in the rock world due to grunge depressing the hell out of everyone and rap-metal, somehow, actually becoming a genre, I am desperately trying to think of 10 flawless amazing albums in the 90’s and I am honestly stumped. Sure, there were a lot of good records released but how many were as incredible as this? Exactly! Not a lot.

Mention must be made here of the included vinyl only cover of the Sonic Rendezvous Band’s ‘City Slang’. This track has always been a fave but to hear it done by one of my all time favourite bands using the sonic distortion and guitar tones that were used on this album is really something else. I would loved to have seen a documentary on the making of this record (as they did with their Rock N Roll Is Dead album) to see just what equipment, techniques and production suggestions were brought to the table to create this gem.

Many people see this record as being THE definitive Hellacopters album as it not only signalled Dregen’s departure from the band after it’s recording but their following record, Grande Rock, saw a change in the band’s sound too as they opted for a more slick sounding 70’s rock record. Which, by the way, was still awesome. You really need to own this.

Track listing:

Side 1:
You Are Nothin’
Like No Other Man
Looking At Me
Riot On The Rocks
City Slang

Groove message: “HÅLL KÄFTEN SKUTT!”

Side 2:
Where The Action Is
Twist Action
Colapso Nervioso
Psyched Out & Furious

Groove message: “VA? HÅLL KÄFTEN. VARGEN ERE JU!”

The band:
Kenny Hellacopter – Electric Bass Guitar
Nicke Hellacopter – Electric Rhythm and Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals, Fender Rhodes and Percussion
Dregen Hellacopter – Electric Rhythm and Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals and Percussion
Robert Hellacopter – Drums, Cymbals and Percussion
Boba Fett – Fender Rhodes

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