THE BETTERDAYS – Backlash (NTB Records CD 1004)

BacklashI realise that this isn’t our usual fare but it’s such a gem that we couldn’t resist. The cover shows The Betterdays from Plymouth in their mid-sixties heyday when these tracks were recorded. They released a single in 1965 which failed to chart and disagreed with their record company about what to put out next so nothing else was released. The twenty four tracks that make up Backlash have been remastered by the band’s guitarist/bassist Mike Weston and remastered very well.

The Betterdays played rhythm and blues when rhythm and blues actually meant something and I suppose that this collection is a fair representation of their live repertoire. There are some well-known tracks such ‘Route 66’, ‘Boom Boom’ and ‘High Heel Sneakers’ alongside some real rarities. The band is rock solid and lead vocalist Mike Hayne is so flexible, He can sound like Peter Noone one minute, Captain Beefheart the next and sometimes just down and dirty. There is an air of pastiche about a song like ‘Raining In My Heart’ but most of the time they having a seriously good time.  I particularly like Tampa Red’s ‘Don’t Lie To Me’ which is grounded on the sort of riff that Marc Bolan built his career on – it’s amazing how modern The Betterdays sound even though all the songs are more than fifty years old – and Willie Dixon’s ‘Pretty Thing’.

Other songwriter credits include Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Jimmy Reed and Louisiana Red although you may have to untangle some of them – back in the olden days the credits on a single bore only a passing resemblance to the actually writers. It’s shocking to think that The Betterdays were banned from every Top Rank venue for playing “black” music – mind you, they were banned from a number of their local venues because of the effect their performances caused – and censored in others. John Lee Hooker’s ‘Walking The Boogie’ was one forbidden fruit. Backlash may be a slice of musical history but it’s also great listening.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Don’t Want That’ – the rare single: