Dogs' Life

British punk-era warriors Slaughter and the Dogs regroup for a shot at the respect they never got

"We were contracted to do a second album and we'd just come back from doing five nights in Paris," explains Rossi. "And Wayne had met this chick." He stops, contemplates the Spinal Tap moment, and says, "Yeah it was one of those. We got up one morning in our house in London and he was gone. He'd done a fuckin' runner! Not even a note.

"Listen," he continues, "I love the guy like a brother, he's so solid now. But we were contracted to finish an album. We had the studio booked; we were gonna lose money. We waited and never heard from him, so we had to bring in another different singer. That's all I need to say about it, really."

The second, slicked-up record with a new singer (ex-Nosebleeds Eddie Garrity) yielded no hits or favorable nods. This despite the acoustic guitar-driven single "East Side of Town," which featured Mott the Hoople's Dale Griffin as producer and Morgan-Fisher on Hammond organ and piano, and was a melancholy tune in the Mott vein. The song revealed a depth of songwriting matched by few of the Dogs' contemporaries.

Slaughter and the Dogs: Punk's unheralded graduates of the class of '76.
Slaughter and the Dogs: Punk's unheralded graduates of the class of '76.
Slaughter and the Dogs: Trying to avoid the pathetic punk reunion land mine.
Slaughter and the Dogs: Trying to avoid the pathetic punk reunion land mine.


Scheduled to perform on Sunday, February 3, with Beltones, Pistol Grip and Glass Heroes. Showtime is 9 p.m.
Boston's in Tempe

"Those Mott guys are great" remembers Rossi. "I had known all the Mott guys before and that's how it came about with Griffin producing. Morgan-Fisher, God, it was like having a British aristocrat coming down to play on your stuff. He was so very pristine and elegant in his tweed suit and mustache that was perfectly curled."

By the time the band had mastered its craft, it was too late. Punk was box-office poison. The band had re-formed, split and re-formed all with different singers and guitarists, including Morrissey and Billy Duffy. The band, sound and punk rock were cataleptic. Promise unfulfilled. Floundering ahead.

The guitarist who figured his group to be the next T. Rex was left staring down the barrel of horrible new decade, one that offered little comfort for an unsung punk-rock guitar hero. Rossi calls the 1980s the "anti-Les Paul decade."

How ironic then that Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes met John Taylor for the first time at a Slaughter and the Dogs show.

"Yeah. I was very depressed. It was a horrible time. I really fucking hated it. It was just a brutal time for music. Everywhere I looked I saw a fucking keyboard. I'm dreading that someone might rehash the '80s."

Rossi worked with everybody from Glen Matlock and Andy Sex Gang to Pete Wylie and Talk Talk, work that Rossi says kept him stay afloat.

You can take the piss out of Rossi and Barrett all you want for diggin' up the bones of punk rock and Slaughter and the Dogs and going to the trouble of making a new record two decades after their last. They don't, of course, care.

By all accounts Slaughter and the Dogs (with a new rhythm section) have managed to sidestep the Punk Reunion Tragedy of lager-addled geezers making jackasses of themselves leaping around with sweaty man tits and barrel guts. Rossi and Barrett claim they wouldn't bother if it couldn't be done with dignity.

"That's all you gotta do is be honest with yourself of what you are trying to do. So going into the new record, Wayne and I deliberated long and hard about what we wanted to do. We recorded the record in Manchester; we went right back to where we started. We rented a house there. So I do believe in it (the new record) and the band absolutely.

What about those, particularly in the British press, who chirp things like, "Knock it off you old sodden fortysomething punk geezer?"

Rossi laughs. "You know what, we look pretty good. We all are pretty much in shape. I knock on wood that none of our faces look like road maps."

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