The Razorcuts – R is for… Razorcuts

The Razorcuts
R is for… Razorcuts

R is for… Razorcuts is a 21-track collection of folk-pop recorded by England’s mid-80s underground sensations, the Razorcuts. Coming from a decade better known for spawning hair-metal and spandex, R is for… Razorcuts should be required listening for anyone who prefers their music outside the mainstream. The Razorcuts were and are about as far away from metal and its current derivatives as you can get and still have amped guitars and stick hit drums. With a myriad of influences apparent (the Beatles, punk, 60s folk-rock), the Razorcuts managed to turn off-key singing, twelve-string guitars, and tambourines into the heavy artillary used to fight off the aqua-netted masses. With hopelessly catchy melodies and impressive Wilson brothers-style harmonies (albeit, off-key harmonies), R is for… Razorcuts is a sort of history lesson in underground pop music.
With 21 tracks, you would expect some songs to stand out more than others, and of course, there are a couple songs – “Sorry to Embarrass You,” “Brighter Now” – that shouldn’t be missed. But overall, the album is pretty consistently strong. Starting with “I’ll Still Be There,” the Razorcuts set the stage with what can be interpretated as the predessecor to the Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love.” Following is “Big Pink Cake.” Not only does the song have the same drum beat as the Ronnettes “Be My Baby,” it has some clever and funny lyrics as well. Starting with “I made a big pink cake / A birthday present for the human race / I made a big mistake / I should’ve known you wouldn’t like the taste,” the singer, Gregory Webster, comes to the conclusion that he “should have pushed the whole thing in your face.” While not the most profound words ever sung in the English language, I can somehow relate.
On other songs like “Storyteller” and “Try,” the Byrds influence is what gets pushed to the front. Another obviously Byrds-influenced track is “Jade.” Sounding like a mishmash of all of their influences, the singing also manages to stay on key. That’s the one weakness in the Razorcuts formula. While singing is certainly an expression of one’s self, it is also usually important to sing in a style that is easy on the audience you are trying to reach. While Webster’s voice fits the accompanying music, it often swings from being charmingly off-key to just plain off. But with 21 tracks, three of which are rare singles/demos, who’s complaining? Of these bonus three, one (“The Horror of Party Beach”) even sounds like the cool uncle of a Pixies song, complete with Deal-esque bassline and a very Black Francis “croon.”
As a band, the Razorcuts are rarely mentioned or often overlooked. But for any music lover, Indie or not, R is for… Razorcuts offers a chance to catch up on what was happening elsewhere during a decade best remembered for Poison and the Crue.