All of all artists to regularly appear with Cat on the Wall, there’s few with the sheer eccentricity (or insanity, if one chooses the blunt term) of Vince Ripper and the Rodent show. A new record by the group is an event; a massive, catastrophic, multi-media project of lasers, blood and props.
Not quite a rock band; not quite a DJ set. Vince Ripper and Ratfink thoroughly fly in the face of reality and convention. And, having gotten bored of all things terrestrial, their latest record – Planet Shockorama – details their musical invasion from the eponymous world in a galaxy far, far away…
With its colourful, beautifully painted cover art, the release is truly an eyecatching, space-age package of inebriated, savage and digitised tunes that are built to infect and entertain – and do so with a startling level of style and charisma.
This is very much Ratty and the Ripper harking back to the days of B-movie sci-fi nonsense; that hilariously nonsensical, cheesy approach to the final frontier – Wrapped up in tinfoil, with television remotes strapped to their chests.
Starting with a traditionally bonkers narration, introducing the world of Shockorama via garbled, and incredibly over-excited narration, the band instantly remind me of those wonderful, low budget movie trailers – loaded with some kind of acrid drug. It’s instantly setting the stage for something truly bizarre, and, after a minute or two, the album hits hyperspace with Vince Ripper’s grasp on The B52’s Planet Claire.
Immediately, our tone is set – this is an even wackier, even more over-the-top Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show; a selection of artists ranging from Bowie to Hawkwind adapted for the intergalactic highway. It’s pure, mental escapism that has no interest in trying to accommodate and instead chooses to flamboyantly ham up every aspect of its own; those to whom it seems alien, after all, aren’t wrong!
This really is a spectacular range of completely madcap, charismatic and belligerent adaptations of music history. It’s a disservice to call any of these cover songs, as the influence in their sphere is surprisingly small. Everything here is really their own; it just uses familiar beats and lyrics to drag in the outside. It’s a black hole of thrashing, roaring chaos, any layer of subtlety or tranquillity is torn down immediately into a truly bizarre journey of horror, rocketships and spacebabes. It hits the ears like a meteor shower; a space-age audio beating like nothing else quite of this Earth. (Or beyond.)
Teenagers From Mars by The Misfits feels authentically backdated and turns into a more traditional punk Anthem. Oddly, it’s far more legible from Ratty’s mouth, but the track loses none of its chaos or anarchy, and stands beautifully against the original without fear or feeling the slightest bit intimidated.
As lifelong results of The Cramps‘ influence, it’s of no surprise to hear I Can’t Find My Mind sounding just as true, catchy and iconic as the day it was written. Less desertous lone wanderer, and more the final snap in one’s brain stem. Treated with a surprising level of authenticity, this is one of the album’s highest and most fiercely enjoyable moments.
The Blob – by The Five Blobs feels far less blobby and far crunchier in its reapproach of the classic horror tune, turning into a bit of a classic rock experiment for the ages – with an enormous amount of style and good humoured nonsense.
The album’s highest point by far, however – although it never once seems to dip, take a pause for breath or even relax a touch – is its finale. Utterly rampant, and by now leaving the listener about ready to don those spaceboots for a second run, it hits with an utterly marvellous cover of David Bowie‘s Scary Monsters. Not only is this incredibly – even shockingly – authentic to the original, but filled with as much love, passion and reverence as can be spared in the duo’s ice cold, murderous hearts. Filled with every bit of Bowie’s natural charisma – and in a surprisingly similar vocal pitch – the result is something the Thin White Duke himself would have loved.
It’s another enormous success – with an unusual thematic twist – for the Ripper and his Rodent chief officer, and it really does prove just how unique an outfit they are. Everything here still has that same bite in the original; it’s still a drunken, violent, spooky frenzy through the world of music and classic sci-fi horror, and it makes for an utterly amazing listening experience – if extremely disorientating and dizzying.
The duo – and their unique takes on everything from music to stage show – are simply impossible to imitate, duplicate or replace. They’ve carved their own little spot and have never once left that winning formula.
Saying that, the band’s recorded material will always pale in comparison to their live shows – laden with effects, props and 3D visuals, Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show will always, really, need to be seen to be believed. Thankfully, they’re playing at Whitby Goth Weekend on the 28th of October 2017.
Get involved, and see the very fabric of time and space change live on stage. There’s nothing quite like it…!