Vardis - Reissues album review

Built for speed

Cover art for Vardis - Reissues album

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Wakefield warriors Vardis had one of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’s most charismatic characters in flaxen-haired axe hero Steve Zodiac. But while his fireball fretboardfrenetics were vastly entertaining, the band’s songwriting abilities were not. Vardis wisely released a live album as their debut in 1980, hell-for-leather boogie-fuelled lunacy at its core. The aptly titled 100 M.P.H. (810) remains a red-raw combo of cage-fighter aggression and bullet-train acceleration, and contains Vardis’ best track If I Were King – although its refrain of ‘If I were king, I’d SOFTWAREmark” gingersoftwareuiphraseguid=“fdc4b462-943c-4492-824f-9ba2d3d15e48” id=“dfa82199-685e-434a-98ec-b4845fabe797”>rock’n’roll’ does conjure up a rather alarming picture of Charles, dithering mosh-pit monarch. The band were putinto the studio for 1981 follow-up The World’s Insane (410) and completely ran out of steam; no boy-racer tyre-shredding shenanigans here, just a plethora of speed humps and traffic-control cameras. Police Patrol comes complete with bagpipes by the bloke who played harmonica on Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon (you couldn’t make it up) and the album reaches its nadir with a limp version of Hawkwind’s Silver Machine. This downward trend continued on 1982’s Quo Vardis (410), an album that includes not only the retrospectively ill-advised Gary Glitter Part One but also a track titled Where There’s Mods There’s Rockers along with the lyric: ‘Where there’s women there’s whores.’ No wonder Vardis’ recent re-formation caused barely a ripple.

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.