Medway Wheelers is the fourth album from Wild Billy Childish & the Friends of the Buff Medways Fanciers Assoc., or The Buff Medways for short. The record includes the singles (I'm a) Lie Detector and Medway Wheelers.
The record starts off with The Man I Am, a Yardbirds styled rocker with harmonica by new member Jim Riley and vocals that sound like Keith Relf.
A Distant Figure of Jon is the first of several mid paced songs that are OK but not anything special. The thing to remember is that even weak Billy Childish is better than most rock on the shelves of any record store.
Karen with a C has music that reminds me of a garage version of Black Sabbath Paranoid, though outside of that impression it doesn't stick with me like his best tracks do.
22 Weeks has the same high evergy sound as the album closer I'm Glad I'm not Like David Wise. It sounds like the song is about a 22 week stint working at an agency
22 weeks, and I'm not going again
Dustbin Mod starts off with the opening riff from The Who My Generation, before becoming a slowed down instrumental with a heavy duty Link Wray debt.
The title track Medway Wheelers may be the standout track for the whole record. It is rare that we get to hear Billy sing instead of shout, and the subject of the song (his Mom and her bicycle club) is dear to him, so the track has a warmth that makes it connect like the best pop-psyche tracks it seems to be modelled on. Despite showing a softer side of Billy, the bridge in the track amps up the sound with an aggressive instrumental burst that supercharges the song.
Next is the previous single, (I'm a) Lie Detector which rests more comfortably on familiar garage/punk territory. It is a good song, but the riskier tracks like Medway Wheelers, Private View and I'm Glad I'm not Like David Wise are much more satisfying (to me at least).
Private View has lots of high pitched la-la-la background vocals, giving it an early Who sound. The bridge has melodic vocals, and is a surprise, just as the track Medway Wheelers was.
The Poets Dream is a slowed down version of Medway Wheelers with different lyrics. It seems that the subject of the track is a girl he fancies - he is the poet and she is his dream. You have NEVER heard a Billy Childish song like this one. It is nice hearing him try our new sounds.
Your Out of the Band Sunshine is a rocker like (I'm a) Lie Detector. The song is pretty good, particularly the guitar break in the middle.
Poundland Poets has even more of a distorted vocal that the other tracks (all tracks have distroed vocals). I would group this song with A Distant Figure of Jon, (I'm a) Lie Detector and Your Out of the Band Sunshine. Nothing wrong with the track, but a little low in energy and offering no major hooks.
I'm Glad I'm not Like David Wise closes out the disc strongly. The drums are right up front with a powerful beat, leading the track with high energy that many of the other tracks on Medway Wheelers lack. The chorus has high pitched voices doubling Billy's lyrics for a Who-like effect. The song remind me of The Who song David Watts.
While I enjoyed this record, it is not one of my favorites by him.