The story of Satan’s Rats begins in Evesham, Worcs, U.K. with four guys and some very average 1977 demos that sound like muffled, Saints-tinted classic rock. But What A Bunch of Rodents tacks these recordings of historical interest onto the tail end of the CD and goes straight into the most coveted goods: the band’s trio of thoroughly great singles on DJM, the only material Satan’s Rats ever officially released.
Obscure 1977 Singles
On their two 1977 45s, Satan’s Rats mingle qualities of The Boys and Slaughter and the Dogs with elements of the Soft Boys and the Velvet Underground, the results being near-perfect examples of snotty, edgy rock ‘n’ roll with a poppy, carefree sense of fun. The first, In My Love For You/Facade, is infused with toe-tapping teenage punk energy.
Deeply spasmodic drumming reminiscent of the Carpettes is overlaid with clear, almost flippantly delivered vocals. Their second, Year of the Rats/Louise, first takes aim at the pop culture of the ’60s with a Clash-type “no Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones” sentiment in “Year of the Rats” (“No more Beatles in the year of the Rats, no more acid in the year of the Rats”) before bursting out with a somewhat ironic rough 1960s garage rock sound on the flipside, “Louise.”
Killed By Death Sound
The 1978 release’s title track “You Make Me Sick” shows off the band’s progressively abrasive style, making it a perfect fit alongside contemporary punk groups like Raw Records artists the Users and the Killjoys but with a weirdness all its own. “Louise” inexplicably shows up once again as the B-side, but this time it’s in more polished form. Additional ’78 and ’79 demos along with the early ’77 recordings make up the rest of the material included on the CD, a total of 20 tracks in all.
Rare Punk Made Accessible
Although the audio quality of the various songs varies, all the music included here is enjoyable. That said, the real reason to pick up What A Bunch of Rodents is to hear those six opening tracks from the three killer rare 7″s which, due to fierce competition among punk record collectors, regularly fetch $50 and up on auction sites.
And that’s when they turn up, which isn’t often. Satan’s Rats remain one of the most underground, underrated punk bands of the 1970s, but at least with this Overground release their music is now accessible to anyone who digs for it.