RAT SCABIES – P.H.D. (Prison, Hospital, Debt)

Cleopatra 2018

No damnation for the wicked: punk lynchpin opens up for personal enterprise – entertaining and engaging.

RAT SCABIES - P.H.D. (Prison, Hospital, Debt)

RAT SCABIES –
P.H.D. (Prison, Hospital, Debt)

Christopher John Millar, may have been been dabbling with writing since THE DAMNED’s first LP where the drummer-penned “Stab Your Back” introduced concise, uncompromising, to-the-point approach to what would be considered a punk canon, and such a method would be applied to his individual activities, including this, Rat Scabies’ solo debut. There were two singles – a 1980 take on Dylan’s “This Wheel’s On Fire” credited to THE RAT AND THE WHALE, and “Let There Be Rats” from 1984 – but no full-length record, an omission “P.H.D.” should successfully rectify. Not that the artist endured the troubles hidden behind the doctor’s acronym yet life has surely made a philosopher out of him, although, sure enough, humor is seeping out of the album’s every pore, the quasi-orchestral grandeur of “Rat’s Opus” – whose sound is far removed from demos which were once available on Scabies’ website – revealing his talent’s true potential.

Of course, rhythms reign supreme here, as the drums direct a galloping piano that gives a playful poise to the catchy cover of Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” – although vocals are basically the only thing multi-instrumentalist Rat doesn’t handle, tackling everything on the likes of “It Feels Like Sunday” – and tom-toms-driven groove fuels the Farfisa-infested frivolity of “My Wrists Hurt” on par with Scabies’ blistering guitar licks. Yet while the slider-steamrolled, dense assault of “Chew On You” will pull the blues-inclined listener under, there’s a whole variety of moods displayed until the shimmer and buzz in “Glad You Could Make It” take the drift to the sunset.

The electronica-kissed “Floating” could be transcendental, too, if not for a tongue-in-cheek spoken word interspersing its skank, but “Floydian Slip” would seamless stitch psychoanalysis to a straight-faced parody of prog rock. As a result, those in need of King Rat’s erstwhile edginess must embrace “Dazy Bones” or “Un Noveau Balai (A New Broom)” which is extremely victorious and raucous at the same time – and deep, on a phylosophical level. Presumably, “P.H.D.” picks the first scab of this artist’s veneer – there must be more where this came from.

****4/5

July 17, 2018

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