Title: The Untouchables/Mint Juleps: Dingwells
Author: Glyn Brown
THE UNTOUCHABLES / MINT JULEPS Dingwalls
AN AIR of barely controlled hysteria floated through the fetid inside of North London’s biggest toilet last Friday night. OK, so we all know mod is getting big in America. Now it was time to see if The Untouchables, from sunny LA, could do what they say they do, but in wet ‘n’ windy Camden. And every mod for miles around had come to check out the rumours, because the word is that these men matter.
First, though, the Mint Juleps: six acapella warblers from Stepney, who did an almost perfect job as the girlie version of the Flying Pickets. Renditions of ‘Jimmy Mack’ and ‘Stand By Me’ were accomplished, if unexciting, and their own numbers — particularly ‘Don’t Let Your Heart Slip Away From Me’ — showed promise. Worth half an hour of anybody’s time, but after that the limitations of acapella style doo-wop lose my concentration.
When The Untouchables took the stage, we were packed onto the floor so tight that tempers were running high. The band eased in with a slick version of Booker Ts ‘Green Onions’, so glossy it took your breath away. This is style.
Then wild man Chuck Askerneese came screaming from behind the giant speaker stacks and took control. Total ability flashed through in the most hugely enjoyable toons, the motoring, unstoppable single, ‘Free Yourself’ and the throbbing demand of ‘Let’s Be Lovers Again’.
Yet somehow they suddenly started to lose their foothold, slipping from the fast, sharp r’n’b / Staxsound of mod into a lot of empty white reggae, a sort of poor man’s Specials. ‘Lebanon’ was a strange, Ska-beat chase about a war experience that means more to yer actual American, and the outrageously simplistic lyrics of ‘Lazershow’ brought us almost down to the banality of US MOR. They picked themselves up pretty quickly and kicked the life back into the set, but there’s still too much careful spit’n’polish here, and the versatility that lets them cover any style they care to makes them almost like a show band.
Untouchables — get dirty!