There are many memorable Rats. There’s the gutbucket garage crew made famous by the inclusion of their ‘Rats’ Revenge’ on the 'Back from the Grave' series, The Rats of Fred Cole before the birth of Dead Moon (and whose 'Intermittent Singles' was recently released on Mississippi Records), and the Rats from which sprung David Bowie sideman Mick Ronson. But the Rats before us date from the glam era – rather closer to the end than the beginning – and were formed around the talents of Davie Kubinec.

Kubinec had passed through a number of outfits: The Rooks, Pieces of Mind, World of Oz, Tangerine Peel and Mainhorse Airline, the latter outfit likely best known for including Patrick Moraz of Yes and a later iteration of the Moody Blues.

None of them brought Kubinec much fame. When manager Adrian Miller put Kubinec together with the members of hard-rocking band CWT to form the Rats, their progress wasn’t much greater. They released a single album, dubbed ‘First Long Player’, decorated it with a takeoff on the Kiwi bootblack tins and released it to a great lack of public fanfare.

There followed band turmoil and a parting of the ways, and apart from a few cognoscenti things might have stayed that way if not for ‘Turtledove’, one of the finest slabs of glam rock ever committed to seven inches of vinyl. When it was rescued from moderate obscurity for the ‘Boobs’ compilation, it swiftly led to the resuscitation of the Rats ‘First Long Player’ on the RPM label in 2006.

Now it emerges that there was more Rats material lying about. While the ‘First Long Player’ was expiring from label inattention, Kubinec laid down another 10 tracks in Trident Studios. They didn’t see release then (in the liners, Kubinec says they “became the subject of gang warfare” and were “appropriated.” Another safety master vanished, so the recordings on ‘Second Long Player Record’ were recovered from a cassette Kubinec had fortuitously held onto.

It was certainly worth bringing back to the public ear: Although he eschews the glam label, the songs on ‘Second’ are sure to please fans of such stompers as Slade.

The album kicks off with the relentlessly horny ‘Shine On’. References to “the man in my jeans” sound somewhat comical in the modern era but the music has a powerful rush and Kubinec has a good, raunchy hard rock voice.

The liners claim that if the tunes had made the light of day when they were recorded, the Rats might have been touted as precursors of modern metal, and they’re not far off the track. The blistering guitar work that opens ‘Mr. Straight’ could sit easily on earlier Judas Priest or Iron Maiden.

The album also incorporates synthesizer on slower tracks. ‘The Elf Sires’ is a terribly titled piano ballad that offers up a well-composed, melancholy reflection on a fallen utopia.

It’s a good break before the album charges back with more crunchy guitar confections like ‘Bite the Bullet’, ‘All Ways in the Night’ and ‘Go Get Straight’. The Ziggy Stardusted ‘The Highwaymen’ pulls things back a bit and is an album highlight. It’s followed by another piano ballad, ‘Day of the Madman’ (also the title of an earlier Kubinec solo album).

The album goes out as it came in, namely with a song about getting it on, 'Good Girls Taste Nice'. The song speeds up for a guitar solo on the bridge, another prototypical metal move.

‘Second Long Player’ sounds just like you’d hope an album caught between the glam and punk eras would, with hard-rock contemporaries such as Aerosmith, Mott the Hoople and Thin Lizzy shading into the world of the Sex Pistols. It’s a must for the junkshop glam brigade, and a nice find for lovers of hard rock from all ages.











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