Jul 1, 2018

TYLA GANG - Yachtless (Beserkley Records BSERK-11, 1977)

Shortly after the final demise of Ducks Deluxe towards the end of 1975, Sean Tyla convened a new group to go back to the original, “no-holds barred” idea of the Ducks, which had been rather smoothed over on their two albums for RCA. The stripped-down, tough street rock that the Tyla Gang specialised in seemed purpose-built to run alongside the coming Punk explosion and their meaty, slightly Beefhearty debut single “Styrofoam” was one of the first few records issued on Stiff into the bargain. Sean himself was insulting bone-idle hippy audiences while John Lydon was still a lank-haired Hawkwind fan and by the first LP the line up included veterans of pioneering Glam/ProtoPunk/Pub Rock group the Winkies in bassist Brian Turrington and drummer Mike Desmarais.

The Tyla Gang received favourable mentions in “Sniffin’ Glue” but as was his want, Tyla shied away from any active engagement with the UK New Wave, apart from the necessary rubbing shoulders on the live circuit. Their two tracks from the fondly remembered “Hope And Anchor Front Row” comp LP, which are a more than fair demonstration of their live power of the time, end this collection on a fitting note. One can’t help but feel that the live arena was their natural habitat – their no-nonsense, thoroughly authentic aggression combined with great playing and catchy tunes would have marked them out as “difficult to follow” I’m sure.

First album “Yachtless”, released on Matthew Kaufman’s Beserkley label in 1977, makes up part of the first disc presented here and definitely marked them out as contenders even if it didn’t sell that much. Here they threw an occasional twelve bar boogie and Velvets’ rhythm guitar chug into the already potent, hard rockin’ brew. With strong numbers like “On The Street” and “The Young Lords”, it “ticked all the right boxes” as current parlance would have it. Possibly lacking quite the lyrical finesse of his Pub Rock contemporaries like Nick Lowe or Graham Parker, this may have possibly thwarted Sean and the Tyla Gang reaching the same level of success they attained during this period. Maybe the beard didn’t help either? We were living in fashion-conscious times then that was for sure. But the LP itself is very good and the early singles tracks are also a delight, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre Boogie” tapping into the kind of “sick joke” side of Punk and “The Young Lords” focussing on those heady greaser gang days of the late 50s for imagery and inspiration.

The follow up “Moonproof” (which follows on here on Disc 2) was not quite as strong as the debut, it appeared that now Tyla coverted the US audience via adding a strong Springsteen influence to the formula. You can understand why he choose to look to America, as there were few takers unfortunately for his brand of Rock n Roll in the rapidly changing UK Pop environment of 1978. It didn’t come off sadly, though “Suicide Jockey” is effective (though probably not as tough as on the original Skydog outing, featured as an extra on disc one here). 

Though this second LP didn’t meet with a great deal of commercial success, the Gang was made of stern stuff and started demoing material for a projected third long player and some of these tracks that were salvageable are presented here on disc 2 as part of this collection. These offerings do not deviate much from their standard sound with perhaps a little extra in the way of slide guitar and although they have their merits they are more low-key than their fiery recordings of a couple of years earlier. One exception is when they delve right back to their very early days for “Amsterdam Dog”, though on the whole it is the sound of a band out of time. Around this time they also recorded incognito as Speedballs and Spitballs (both of which figure amongst the bonus tracks), but the response was the same and as Beserkley closed up shop in 79 so did the Tyla Gang with Sean opting for a solo career mostly based stateside.

In this modern era of the growing underclass,where the rich are out of sight of the super rich elite. The Haves, and the Have Yachts. To be Yachtless means you are excluded from the exclusive club of the 1% who own 99% of global wealth. One can't help but feel sorry for those struggling millionaires who can only dream of owning their own private jet....the Jetless. Of course as the class divide widens, post 'credit crunch', and the underclass are paid less, forced into zero-hour contracts, and to be 'self-employed' as a way around workers rights. These second tier millionaires are almost certain to get their private Jet, and upgrade their sad little 50ft yacht to something nearer the €340 million container ship size boat that Roman Abramovich spent his stolen cash on. Not unlike the 'yacht' as featured on the cover of ean Tyla's post Ducks Deluxe group, The Tyla Gang's, debut album, "Yachtless". Tyla's new band played a bunch of faultlessly played hard mid tempo rockers, not unlike a UK version of The Heartbreakers(both Johnny T's and Tommy P's), but without the style. This could easily have been by an american group, and i'm not surprised they got signed up by an American label.

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