This was the first record by a band that made some very good records indeed. A sort of compilation of early singles, Tonite .. the Singles Bar is a fantastic homage to primitive, sleazy punk rock. Equal parts Gun Club, Birthday Party, Morphine and Tom Waits, their star shone very brighlyt for a couple of years as the NME flogged them to death in the early 1990’s. They were eventually picked up by a major label and nominated for the Mercury Music prize. Besides producing some vital swamp-billy music they also hosted James Byfield, the only professional maracas player since Bez from the Happy Mondays. I think that this early compilation really nailed their sound and although I own everything they’ve ever done, I don’t think that they ever bettered it. From The Heart of Town (their album from the following year) exhibits a less ramshackle (dare I say polished approach) and although the songs are strong it lacks the primal vitality of their early singles.
The lead singer James Johnstone has gone of to play with the Bad Seeds which seems in retrospect to be a natural destination for him. All the Gallon Drunk albums were re-released with extra tracks last year. The expanded version of this has some live versions of some stuff that appeared on later records. If I was to repurchase any of Gallon Drunk’s records it would be this one. They released a new record last year. I haven’t heard it but am curious. Anyone care to profer an opinion?
Town and Country Club 1991