Friday, September 17, 2010

Bloodless Pharaohs - Brian Setzer and the Bloodless Pharaohs (1996)

It was once sung, "It's better to burn out than to fade away." Unfortunately for the world (or at least for those of us with decent taste), Brian Setzer did neither of these as far as his musical career was concerned. Instead he trudged on and began to make lamer and lamer music as the years passed. Sometimes it's boggling how someone gets from point A to point B, or to be more precise from the '78-'79 Bloodless Pharaohs recordings to the rockabilly bullshit of The Stray Cats (OR to point C, which in this case would be the the joke that was The Brian Setzer Orchestra). Perhaps its a matter of poor influences. Perhaps Dave Edmunds is to blame. Whichever the case, Setzer fell off rather early in his career - once he started putting eyeliner on it was all downhill as far as good taste is concerned. Anyways, enough with the smack talkin', let's talk about why this particular band of his rocked.

The Bloodless Pharaohs were an ephemeral, but seminal band in the underground New York rock scene in the late 70s. A major part of the awesomeness of the band had something to do with a man named Ken Kinnally, whose organ, Wurlitzer electric piano and cavernous vocals made him a key component of the group and complemented Setzer's more than adequate guitar playing quite well.

Because of a similar setup and the intense vocals, they often sounded like a stripped down version of The Stranglers. Their sound alternated between deranged, almost tyrannical circus rock (a la Social Climbers, which I talked about a few posts back), to dark, hypnotic new wave with a raw, unrelenting punk attitude. It's all very aggressive, although, much like the Stranglers, not as loud as you might expect. The high point of the album for me is the 11 minute opus,"The Cells" which gets pretty crazy midway through, then proceeds to climb and climb until exploding into a fountain of cinders at the finale. Other songs worth noting are "Industrial Nancy," "Nowhere Fast," "Stella by Strobelight," "Boys Having Babies," and "Bloodless Pharaoh." - all fantastic tracks. Yeah, the songs sound like like were recorded in someone's garage party, and yeah even as a comp, its no masterpiece, but it sure as hell will rock your face off, and sometimes that's all that matters.

Rating: 8.5/10



  1. I'm looking for a video from the right track in in Freeport LI that was filmed for Suffolk county public access tv with the pharaohs, Revelons and Hand grenades.

    contact me at

  2. I have the "12 x 5 Marty Thau album" with two tracks of Bloodless Pharaohs. Brian Setzer is an amazing guitar player! Thanx!

  3. Sorry you don't have a better opinion of Brian Setzer's talent...but then again you know what they say about opinions, right?

  4. Talent and taste are two very different things. I consider him to be quite talented.