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Review: 'Gymslips, The'
'Rocking With The Renees'   

-  Label: 'Optic Nerve Recordings'
-  Genre: 'Punk/New Wave' -  Release Date: '26.8.22.'-  Catalogue No: 'OPT4.047'

Our Rating:
This is a re-issue of the Gymslips one and only album Rocking With The Renees that his trio of East London Renees put out back in 1982/3. The bands definition of a Renee is: Appearance-Slightly rotund, Double Chin, in most cases short hair. Diet- Excessive Alcohol, pie and mash. Clothing- jeans, monkey boots, denim jacket (leather in winter), t-shirt. Habits- Most disgusting things. The male counterparts are known as Ronees. The Gymslips were Karen Yarnell, Paula Richards and Suzanne Scott whose memory this album is dedicated too. This re-issue uses the original artwork that was deemed too obscene for the US market where the album was re-named Drinking problem and had different "less offensive" artwork.

The front side opens with Renees that tells us exactly what The Gymslips are all about, yes getting drunk, smashed and pissed, over some good basic punk rock with good tongue in cheeky harmony vocals.

Drink Problem is a celebration of what different types of booze do for you, this flies along like they are on a proper bender doing everything suggested for Whiskey, Gin, Brandy and Rum while they are all nice and pissed.

Barbra Cartland takes the piss out of dear old Babs and her oeuvre, now as I know someone who used to help her write the books, this hits a good few spots, as they don't like those pink dresses.

Face Lifts is a song that now seems ahead of its time, as in the years since this came out, Face Lifts have become rather commonplace, so that this anthem to the joys of having a nip and tuck seems rather more current, as they sing about all being into surgery, which would have been most un-skinhead like back then, but they are also taking the piss out of dear old Esther Rantzen as well, as this has a good garage girl group feel to it.

Thinking Of You is as close as they come to a sweet love song, for someone who doesn't return the affection they have for them, even though they aren't the sort of girls to let on they have feelings like that.

Angels sounds like a sped-up Stranglers instrumental with some fuzzy guitar. Robot man is a nice snotty Suzi Quatro style rocker, about well wanting a Robot Man to do everything they want him too, without ever speaking back or getting into fights.

The Back Side opens with Dear Marje that was of course the title of the Daily Mirror's agony Aunt Marje Proops column, this has some imagined scenarios for letters to her, with the bands typical Renee and Ronee problems over a good stop start garage punk tune.

Wandering Stars takes aim at the fickle nature of pop fans and the bands they follow like The Osmonds and The Glitter Band and why they might have adored David Cassidy, apparently it was his zits!!

Yo Yo was always used as an insult by a couple of my teachers growing up in east London, who both turned out to be super dodgy, in some ways this song uses Yo Yo in a similar way, although I don't think this is about tawdry underage sex in that way, this is certainly about getting off with the wrong person.

Some Girls takes aim at the sort of bloke who think girls can't play punk rock or drink like they do, so they are boasting that they can take on these idiots and give them a good run for their money. They'd probably kick you in the nuts if you said the wrong thing to them as well.

Complications is all about making sure none of their boyfriends find out about the other boyfriends they have, and if they do find out then they get dumped, over a power pop punk backing that sounds more sweet and innocent than the lyrics.

Big Sister is all about telling a Big Sister some home truths as she believes everything her bloke tells her, no matter what rubbish it might be.

The album closes with a cover of Suzi Quatro's 48 Crash, that was originally the band's first single, played as a rockin' rave-up that's reasonably close to the original and gives the impression it would be great fun live, it also has the only obvious piano on the album that was played by fourth member Karen Barnes.

The Bonus 7" single opens with Silly Egg that re-works some nursery rhymes and east end phrases into a frantic rockin' rave up and good old-fashioned piss take, with lots of variations of what happens to that silly egg.

Pie 'N' Mash is all about going to Canning Town and paying 42p for some Pie 'n' Mash and shoveling it in their pie holes, no matter if it made them feel a bit icky eating it.

The b-side opens with multi-Coloured Sugar a song about going to Marino's for a cuppa and well I remember going there with my dad, but mum would never go in there!! The cakes with the multi-coloured icing were about 40% sugar if memory serves me right, this brings back some odd childhood memories for me.

The single ends with Take Away that is almost a spoken word rant or tale between Suzanne and her mum about getting a Chinese Take Away and chatting with a very drunk friend, this might be considered politically incorrect these days, but damn it still sounds great and I'm sure they enjoyed the Chicken Curry in a hurry.

Find out more at https://opticnerverecordings.com/products/gymslips-the-rocking-with-the-renees-lp-7

  author: simonovitch

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