THE HALOES - THE GHOST OF SATURDAY NIGHT
CHAZ HALO – ALMOST FOREVER A GO-GO
CHAZ HALO – AMAZING GRACELESS (DEMOS 2002-2003) (Black Nipple Records)
~review by Mick Mercer
Chaz Halo (nee Matthews) is such a bastard! He sends me three CDs and only one has accurate sleeve notes. I think he wants me to make a fool of myself! (And that doesn’t take much.) But, be honest, there’s a lot more bastards among you lot. It often surprises me just how many people will suddenly admit to a penchant for Dogs D’Amour, Manics, Stray Cats, or Hanoi Rocks, just as I often appal people with my sturdy knowledge of early Kiss recordings (don’t bother with much after ‘Destroyer’ kids!).
Chaz first came to my attention through the excellent Goth-Glam-Punk cross-dressing zine Machine Gun Etiquette, so I slapped a flash punk piece of his trash ouvre onto a Gothic Rock comp. He left the Goth scene, openly incensed by the stupidity he saw around him, moving to Boston early 90’s where his glammy punk leanings eventually saw him forming The Dimestore Haloes, who made several albums and singles, but all things come to an end and this little selection of CDs reflects his activities.
(Chaz – second from left. Live pic by Damian Siaz, from Charlie’s Kitchen in 2003) With the Haloes’ compilation I expected Punk with a billyish tinge for some reason, but there more old school Punk than I expected, starting with a riff-hungry equivalent to Generation X, them moving through various clipped styles. The track list is absent, so I won’t do details, but while the raw production always throws a touch too much emphasis on equally raw vocals, this collection lurches at you, with choruses that are frequently punchy. More than once I detected a soft underbelly of rocky punk, but as the sleeve booklet opens I see why. Pictures of favoured record sleeves are gathered around some Haloes song titles. I see The Wildhearts, Maniocs, Trash Brats, Replacements, and plenty of Metal.
Occasionally sounding as fresh as Mega City 4, sometimes sounding authentically 77-ish, poppy sensibilities wielded well ensure it’s a good, typical compilation of a band who would expect to be well treated in clubs. I didn’t see much in the way of greatness, more someone freshly raking the soil of Clash slopes and draining Dollsy ditches.
Coming nervously to ‘Almost Forever A Go-Go’ we find Chaz recording at home, and everything is bouncier. Faster, bigger, brighter, but with the drawbacks such an approach brings, in that often it’s the same ambience for too long, and sometimes his vocals are a mess. With no-one to clout him around the back of the head and tell him to try again, he breezes through an antagonistic bunch of songs, sometimes with a burly riff, sometimes with some plaintive drivel. Rousing, raspberry vocals are good, and when he erupts zealously it all works. It’s the rocky touches which bring him down, and I’ll swear some lyrics are so unforgivably bland, I believe he once found a long lost Johnny Thunders notebook and treats it as his bible. (Chaz has now sent me details, which indicate there are two covers involved – Nick Gilder’s ‘Hot Child In The City’ and Little Richard’s ‘Jenny, Jenny, Jenny’. So now you know, and I hope it doesn’t make the picture any clearer!)
The real quality is the newest set, ‘Amazing Graceless’. By now he is a male Joan Jett. Singing a word like down produces ‘dow-how-hown’ and he can’t stop saying ‘Hey!’ and jumping around. From the upright opener, ‘Can’t Start Loving You’, through the lighter MSPish ‘Beautiful’, he’s slightly calmer, and more precise. ‘Yeah Yeah Rock’n’Roll’ is as rubbishy as it sounds, with nice drum and guitar touches, ‘Neon Skies’ is a bit drab, because he will insist on leaping in with vocals at every start, and ‘Hating The Weekend’ is a total cliché, but with this music clichés are the backbone which make people want to explore it. Performers and bands who tackle this area know they’re wading through the past with no way back, so while ‘Drinking For Two’ and ‘Baby Comes Undone’ mean nothing to me, they’re perfectly gawky urchins.
There’s plenty of songs here which pass me by, because I don’t go for rawky chic, although ‘Black Hear Stationery’ is fantastic, ‘Romeo Is Bleeding’ amused me, and ‘Insignificant Others’ is fizzy simplicity itself. ‘Be My Widow’ was gently magnetic with its emotive innards (once I’d realised it wasn’t ‘Miss You Nights’) and ‘Hate Every Word’ closes fit to burst.
You’ll know from what I have mentioned whether this is for you. It’s Punk, abused and Glam, confused. Blessed, or cursed, with a congenital anomaly that ensures he is perpetually cool, Chaz is singing at you, not for you, but you can share in his passion, because this is designed to give you a good time, one and all.
AMAING GRACELESS tracklisting:
- Chaz, the music