THE BELLRAYS Raw Collection Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 2xCD 2005
CD1: You're Sorry Now / Nights In Venice / Half A Mind / Mind's Eye / Swastika / Gather Darkness / Pinball City / Mother Pinball / Suicide Baby / Chemical / Tie Me Down / Say What You Mean / Rude Awakening / Lost The Feeling / The Same Way.
CD2: Swinging The Blade / Get It Right / Chain On You / I Got To Find My Baby / I’m A Lover / Destroy All Everything / Dream Police / If I Wanted To / Heat Cage / I Don’t Need No Doctor / Dark Horse Pigeon / High School / Good Thing / One For The Heart / Train, Train, Train.
The BellRays: Lisa Kekaula: vocals, tambourine / Tony Fate: guitar, vocals, (tracks: CD1-7): bass, (tracks: CD1-2): organ / Bob Vennum: bass, vocals, percussion, (tracks: CD1-1, CD1-7, CD2-14, CD2-15): guitar, (tracks: CD1-4): organ / Ray Chin (tracks: CD1-1 to CD1-15, CD2-1, CD2-5 to CD2-14): drums / Ethan Halpern (tracks: CD1-1, CD2-14, CD2-15): bass / Todd Westover (tracks: CD1-13, CD2-2, CD2-3): drums / Eric Allgood (tracks: CD2-4): drums, vocals.
Vocalist Lisa Kekaula guitarist Bob Venuum formed the BellRays around 1990 in Riverside, CA. Originally, the duo leaned heavily on a vintage R&B sound flecked with smoky jazz overtones. But with the addition of guitarist Tony Fate and Venumm moving to bass, the sound soon began to mix Kekaula's alley cat soul vocals with a biting punk rock bottom end. The In the Light of the Sun cassette release appeared in 1993, followed by the "Wall of Soul" 7" two years later. the BellRays issued their debut full-length, "Let It Blast", in 1998 and supported it with an extensive tour that included a particularly fiery appearance at Austin's South by Southwest conference. By now, drummer Ray Chin had joined the fold, and the 'Rays were making waves with their furiously passionate sound. "The Grand Fury" LP dropped in 2001 from Los Angeles indie Upper Cut and was followed by a European release combining it with "Let It Blast".
Tours with notables like Rocket From the Crypt and Nashville Pussy continued to spread the word, and In Music We Trust reissued "In the Light of the Sun". 2003 saw the Upper Cut release of "Raw Collection", an odds 'n' sods compilation featuring B-sides, rarities, and vinyl-only material from 1995 through 2002. Red White and Black also arrived in 2003, and the band continued to crank out soulful garage-punk on 2006's "Have a Little Faith" 2008's "Hard, Sweet and Sticky" and 2010's "Black Lightning". Allmusic
Raw Collection is an odds 'n' sods collection that gathers up random BellRays vinyl and comp tracks from 1995 through 2002. It ranges from the street-level soul of "You're Sorry Now" to a fabulously dirty cover of the Saints' "Nights in Venice," and that's only the first two tracks! Elsewhere, Raw rocks with "Pinball City," which contains the classic lines "Burning up the rubber on my BMX/I can hear the quarter fallin' through the slot." The BellRays' genius is in their utter lack of pretension. They might know that their cross-breeding of soul and punk is not necessarily original, and at times can be a little amateurish. But since when has this music asked for anything more than a backbeat, bassline, and some catch phrases to sing or shout along to? This is what vocalist Lisa Kekaula and bassist/principal songwriter Bob Vennum understand. And besides, there's a sense of humor here, too. The funky stroll of "Mother Pinball" -- with its chorus of "Do the pinball, baby!" -- falls right next to the punk kid anthem "Pinball City." When it's all said and done, don't get any ideas that it's okay to bad mouth The BellRays.
One listen to the tweeter-ripping screed "Say What You Mean" will kill off that vibe toot suite. It features some of Kekaula's best Tina Turner meets Joan Jett vocalisms, there are some classic "hey! hey!"s in the echoing background, and the absolutely ripping guitar riff is overdriven to cardiac arrest levels. When everything drops out and Kekaula screams, "Getting mighty tired of lookin' for something," that's when most listeners will realize what they've just found, and start trying to grow an afro to accessorize the motorcycle jacket. Allmusic
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