Leatherface: Razorblades And Aspirin 1990-93

Archive box set for the gravel-voiced champions of malice.

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Grizzled outsiders from an unfashionable corner of the musical map, Sunderland neo-punks Leatherface enjoyed their first burst of cult fame during the early-90s grunge boom, disbanded for the duration of Britpop, then came back in 1998 for a second bite of the cherry.

This 50-track triple-disc box-set retrospective spans the bulk of their first act, an almost unrelenting roar of unshaven monochrome growl-rock, swept along by the sandpaper rasp of singer Frankie Stubbs, the sore-throated love child of Lemmy and Bob Mould.

Songs like The Bastards Can’t Dance and Trenchfoot still sound as subtle as a smack in the ribs with a coal shovel, but at their best, Leatherface combined hardcore grit with punk-pop heart.

Widely held by fans to be the band’s magnum opus is their 1991 album Mush, which produced more tender, controlled explosions of raw emotion, like the wistfully melodic standouts Springtime and I Want The Moon.

Among the bonus tracks on later pressings was a ragged, riff-slamming version of The Police’s Message In A Bottle, a possibly sarcastic homage to one Gordon Sumner from nearby Newcastle. But levity and beauty are rare qualities on this marathon anthology, which mostly tends towards workmanlike grind, with a default scowling tone and guitar-scouring texture that eventually begin to grate./o:p

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.