Myself and Mrs Horizon were lucky enough to meet Robert Webb of Hopper Propelled Electric at the wedding of Ingy, singer of The Maitlands. What a showbiz world we inhabit. Anyway, Rob, chief rabble-rouser of the band was hitting the dance floor in a black zoot suit and white shoes.
When you bear this in mind, listening to HPE they makes a lot of sense. They are the band of someone who wears a black zoot suit and white shoes to a wedding in Scarborough. Their album, Be The Beast, is the sound of a man from Oldham living his sweaty r’n’r dreams. The sound may be derived from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion but it’s stained with a distinct North-West grottiness. It is the sound of a by-gone style lived vicariously. Be The Beast reeks of too-strong aftershave and sliding over the bonnets of a Ford Cortina. Hopper Propelled Electric want to slug bourbon straight from the bottle, but what they have is a carrier bag full of lager from the offie.
The songs are adolescent spurts of stinging guitar. The opening song, ‘Barfight In Senegal’ says it all with the title alone, but the stomping riff brings the lights down on an album of bruising rockers. From there the pace never lets up, stirring it up with Stooges aggro. ‘The Bind’ has a ‘Blank Generation’ swagger, minus the existential doubt. ‘Machine Gun Mess’ is bass led with bleary bar room eyes and scratchy, back-of-the-throat guitar before it kicks back in with some hair-of-the-dog vigurrr.
‘Do The Chronic’ not only continues the great tradition of songs called ‘Do The..’ but offers a riff like a heavier version on Blondie’s ‘One Way Or The Other’. ‘Over You’ sounds like a man sneaking down an alley, the natural environment of Hopper Propelled Electric. ‘Meanwhile, back at the lab’ offers a quiet interlude, which not only does what it says on the tin but manages to be an album highlight.
Mark E Smith once sang “I still believe in r ‘n’ as primal scream”. I know another man who does too.