THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Originally issued by Sub Pop Records in 1990, Heavens To Murgatroyd, Even! It’s Thee Headcoats! (Already) was U.K. garage-punk trio Billy Childish and Thee Headcoats’ fourth full-length album and fifth release overall. This version features different artwork (more on that in a minute) and two extra tracks: Girl From ’62 and Troubled Times (which originally appeared on singles in 1991 and 1990).
Here’s a recent Q&A with Childish about the album:
What’s the story behind the album title?
“ ‘Heavens to Murgatroyd, even!’ is a term of surprise by Snagglepuss, a bright pink lion, who starred in his very own Hanna-Barbera cartoon. The term was famously employed by The Downliners Sect on the intro to their top tune Leader of The Sect.”
This album originally came out on Sub Pop Records in 1990. The label was known for U.S. grunge at the time. How come they ended up working with a Medway garage ’n’ racket group?
“We prefer the term “Maximum Drums and Racket.” It all came about because a young Steve Turner, of Mudhoney fame, when a young lad visiting England with his father, happened across Thee Mighty Caesars playing at The Cricketers Public House at the Oval. Fast-forward five years and he is telling the Seattle Grunge mob all about how great we are. We were then invited to play with Mudhoney on their first Sub Pop jaunt in the U.K. Bruce Pavitt, the Sub Pop visionary, saw our mass appeal and asked if we’d knock out an LP for Sub Pop. He also asked me to sign a contract. I replied — ‘What’s a contract, can you eat it?’ By this good chance we still owned the LP.’
You recorded the album at Red Studios in Wouldham, near Rochester in Kent. What are your memories of recording there?
“It was all fine and dandy, I won’t go into details as I don’t want to embarrass Red Rodders, the engineer. Let’s just say there was a lot of marsh gas down Wouldham way.”
Some of the tracks were recorded with Ollie Dolot (The Squares) on bass and backing vocals. How long was he in the band and why did he end up leaving?
“Ollie was in for a good few months. Ron (Bruce) roped him in. Then whilst helping out The Cramps with their show at the Town and Country Club (formerly the home of British fascism) we ran into Tub and knowing him from when he was guitarist with Mike Spenser and The Cannibals, we asked if he’d like to twang the onion twine. Ron then told Ollie he was out the band sunshine and that it was me who had thrown him out. Which was not the case, it was Ron. I also think Ollie may have been absent due to being nicked for house breaking, or something. Strange but true.”
This new edition is expanded with two non-album tracks and has brand new artwork. What made you want to release it with a different cover?
“Sub Pop did the cover without asking — a bit of a shocker! This cover is near to what we would have done ourselves. The two extra tracks would have been on the original LP, but they got swiped as 45s by small labels desperate to get a bit of gold.”
Are there any songs on the album that you’re particularly proud of?
“They are all pretty top notch but We’re Gone and Rusty Hook sit nicely with Troubled Mind and Girl From ‘62.”
Along with the 13 Childish-penned tracks is a cover of Stewball, a song made famous by Leadbelly and later covered by several artists in the 1960s. What made you want to record your own version?
“I just love Leadbelly. I believe we even brought him to the mind of that young fellow-me-lad Kurt Cobain.”