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Attention! Calling All Marty McFly Emulators... - 96%

CHAIRTHROWER, February 4th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1980, 12" vinyl, Logo

Even though Wretchedspirit's swell review duly nailed NWOBHM old-timers Vardis' core essence and crazed, free-for-all styled vintage rock n' roll sound I'm compelled to also throw my two cents in (you can keep the change) regarding the largely unheralded classic which is the trio's 1980 debut album, 100 MPH, oddly enough, a live recording which spawns close to three quarters of an hour and ten revved up to the hilt, crowd pleasing humdingers which are imbued with a singular, 1950s-ish energy which makes one feel like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future, namely his jaw-dropping & maniacally bopping, knockabout performance at his parents' school dance. Wonky, you say? Hell, alongside Thin Lizzy's Live And Dangerous and Pentagram's A Keg Full of Dynamite, it's one of my all-time favorite live albums; in fact, I doubt the novelty will ever wear off!

Fronted by its still active, charismatic front man/guitarist, Steve Zodiac, and thrust ever forward in a most bedazzling, noodling manner by Alan Selway on bass and Gary Pearson on drums, Vardis incorporates the very best elements of timeless heavy rock worthies such as Tank, Raven and The Who while adding its own uniquely festive character to the mix, thus launching the listener - and crowd, as attested by its roaring cheers and whistles throughout - into a right kinetic and spry, unflagging frenzy thanks to super drawn out and seemingly endless guitar riffs/solos, dynamic, tangent traveling bass lines and unabated, happy-go-lucky albeit durable drum beats and fills which would make Keith Moon and John Bonham blush (were they still alive - may they respectfully rest in peace). Seriously! While most will initially be taken aback by the band's unexpected but swiftly endearing sashaying rhythms, will, in short order, sprawl in the dust as they merrily chant along to Zodiac's bold vocal antics from another time. Unbelievably, this weathered but unrelenting powerhouse hasn't let up, as full-length number four slid through the door in 2016, courtesy of Steamhammer records - goody gumdrops!

Vardis' arresting employ of repetition impressively fuels each song while duly amplifying its overall bodacious and enduring flair. For instance, the way the guitar hooks and snags on a certain riff before revolving into a veritable whirlwind of drawn-out extensive blues soloing is simply irresistible. As inferred earlier, the bass relentlessly grooves and shuffles this way and that, at times digitally thumping Ian Hill (JP) style or caroming about like a hellion possessed on a day pass, as it does on the footloose, hand-clapping shuffler which is "Let's Go" while the song's momentum furiously builds up in impetus right up to the harried, stand alone introductory solo paving the way for the speed limit breaking title track. Effectively, excitable instances abound, whether it's the insanely melodic - and somewhat Hawaiian sounding - sweep picking dissecting "Move Along", or jolly fret runs and haranguing stomp of "Lion's Share". Zodiac also has quite a knack for stalwart string bends - on both riffs and leads, mind - which further lend a fun and bouncy air to the proceedings. Furthermore, expect loads of Sabbath-y trills and oh-so prominent and ingenious Budgie-evoking bass lines sure to tickle your fancy until you're rolling on the floor joyfully crying "Uncle!"...Have I failed to mention how crisply strident but highly conducive the guitar tone is? Check!

Although the humorous and jocosely self-deprecating "The Loser" is sure to paste virginal Vardis revelers with an ear-to-ear shit-eating grin, the finishing flourish to this high brow albeit innocuous gem, "If I Were King (I'd Rock & Roll!)" pretty much sums up everything I love about these guys. Suffice to say, it's no surprise the crowd tirelessly clamors for more of the good stuff as it draws to a close. All I can say at this juncture is "GLEAN VARDIS' 100 MPH ASAP!", although you may have to rely on brew-tube since the original vinyl, which includes a life-size poster, is rarer than a contemporary Hollywood film which eschews gun play.

As a disclaimer, I assume no liability for busted teeth, chairs and/or windows!