Sunday, February 13, 2011

Inca Babies – This Train (Black Lagoon Records, 1986)

I actually own several Inca Babies albums, but This Train has always been my personal favourite. Thundering out of Manchester in 1982 (or was it 83? Their own official site is a bit unclear on this), Inca Babies were another of the bastard children unintentionally spawned by pervasive influence of The Birthday Party and other acts in the Psychobilly vein. C.P Lee, author of several books on the Manchester music scene would later describe them as “the Hulme Cramps”.

The Interior 7” (Black Lagoon Records, 1983) on the band’s own label set the ball rolling,  several other singles and 12” releases emerged before the  debut LP appeared. Always ones to wear their influences on their sleeve, Rumble (Black Lagoon Records, 1984) took its name from an influential Link Ray song, and the cover art for The Interior depicts a dubious looking character apparently wearing a “King Ink” t-shirt. In the grand spirit of handing things down though, Rumble did contain a song called “Cactus Mouth Informer” , which now lends its name to a rather good blog, but I digress…

All this brings us to the This Train album (Black Lagoon Records, 1986), or to give it it’s full title; “This Train is Bound For Glory”, itself a Johnny Cash Song. The album itself remains a favourite of mine – imagine The Birthday Party stripped of the chaos and a slow surf-rock feel installed in its place.

Proceeded by the single “Splatter Ballistics Cop” (Black Lagoon Records, 1985), This Train is essentially an album of two gears – the relatively faster songs owing much to Birthday Party numbers like “Sometimes Pleasure Heads Must Burn” or “Release the Bats”, interspersed with the much slower, more in the mould of “She’s Hit” or “Deep in the Woods”.

After the release of This Train, the LP Opium Den (Black Lagoon Records, 1987) follows, but things seem to begin falling apart with various members leaving, and extensive tours of Europe, but little media coverage in their native UK. The Final LP Evil Hour (Constrictor, 1988) would see a significant change in direction, including keyboards provided by Clint Boon of Inspiral Carpets (well, it was Manchester afterall). The band themselves admit on their blog that they were disappointed in it. Personally, I’ve owned a copy of Evil Hour for many years in which time I think I’ve listened to it once which probably speaks for itself.

Happily though, in 2006 Cherry Red/Anagram Records approached the group to produce a best-of compilation which became Plutonium 1983-87 (notably excluding the Evil Hour period). You can get this from iTunes but inexplicably must download it as individual tracks rather than as one album. Still, I’d very much like to own this and will probably end up ordering a physical copy from – whoops, I just did.

Around this time, The Inca Babies roar back into life with a series of international gigs and in 2008 beginning to record a new album Death Message Blues (Black Lagoon Records, 2010) with 12 new songs on it. They no longer sound like The Birthday Party, although through an intriguing evolutionary process, they do now sound a lot like The Bad Seeds. Unfortunately, as Harry Inca records on the band’s blog, bassist Bill Bonny didn’t live to see the album’s release, apparently making a self-inflicted and sadly premature exit.

RIP Bill – and thank you for the music.

Track Listing
  1. Plenty More Mutants
  2. Correction Stack
  3. Hole in the Gulley
  4. Candy Mountain
  5. Splatter Ballistics Cop
  6. The Depths
  7. Backyard Bones
  8. Daniella
  9. Call Me Enemy
 Correction Stack, Daniella and Plenty More Mutants all appear on the compilation Plutonium 1983/87 (Anagram Records, 2006). The Depths is also included, although curiously mislabeled as Big Cypress.

Line Up:
Mike Lairs (vocals, harmonica), Harry Stafford AKA: Harry Inca (Guitars, piano), Bill Bonny (bass), Pete (drums, percussion, metal).


  1. outstanding LP by an outstanding band - even if they did just want to be the birthday party. Big jugular spluuters hos words... indeed. Great site.

  2. Very true. Bone Orchard and Ausgang are also worth checking out if you enjoy this kind of stuff. A whole host of lesser acts too that walked the line between Goth and Psychobilly, (see any number of bands on the Blood on the Cats and Revenge of the Killer Pussies compilations (Both on Amagram, 1983)). But Bone Orchard, Ausgang and Inca Babies did it best.