There was a time at the end of the eighties and start of the nineties when, even before the rise of Grunge and the tumult of record label greed that stopped 80’s rock in its tracks, Rock was interesting again – bands like Love/Hate, Sea Hags and The Nymphs amongst many others took what we all knew about 70’s and 80’s rock and dialled it back to us with an injection of art and late 60’s craziness. It wasn’t of course a movement, and the bands I mentioned were certainly diverse, but they had something far more interesting than the ‘quiet-loud-quiet-loud-repeat’ approach of Nirvana and the thousands of far less interesting bands they kick-started.
The Nymphs were an enigma and as a kid reading tales of Inger Lorre their beautifully unhinged singer I was as intrigued as I was afraid. The fact that they made a rather wonderful noise even if it was a little off centre for some made them even more appealing and when their one and only album hit you imagined they’d be huge, they weren’t of course and all they added to their legacy before splitting was an EP ‘A Practical Guide to Astral Projection’ (I still have it) which collected demos for the first album and a cover of the Badfinger classic ‘Come and Get It’.
After the band split in 1992 Lorre worked briefly with Jeff Buckley with whom she recorded, but after his death it was 1999 before her first solo record. Despite the odd show here and there, and a version of the Nymphs playing a few shows in 2006 the death of original drummer Alex Kirst in 2011 seemingly laid to rest any chance of a reunion. After a 2 track single released as ‘Inger Lorre and the Chiefs of Infinity’ in 2014, fast forward to 2016 and Lorre’s confirmation of the band’s reformation with all new members and the fact they would be recording new material. That plan seemed to fizzle out after a few rehearsals. In April 2017 a new reformation was announced with a practically new line-up from the 2016 band, but the same plans to tour and record.
And now here we have movement – a first live album recorded with only drummer Eric James Contreras from the 2017 line-up recorded at LA’s Viper Room in 2016. It’s a start.
Containing 8 tracks by The Nymphs: ‘Imitating Angels’; ‘Wasting My Days’; ‘Sad and Damned’; ‘Death of a Scenester’; ‘The River’; ‘2 Cats’ and ‘The Highway’ you essentially get the best of that classic first and only album along with ‘Alright’ from the ‘A Practical Guide to Astral Projection’ EP which make up the core of the ‘Official Bootleg’ as the album is aptly described in the press release.
Add to that opener ‘Rumble’ an instrumental which opens with a crashing guitar and proceeds to crash for almost three minutes before ‘Alright’ opens things properly; ‘7B’ the closing track from her 1999 solo album; ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Hate in my Heart’ from her Cargo records single from released under Inger Lorre and the Chiefs of Infinity back in 2014 and a cover of ‘Monitor’ by Goth high priestess Siouxsie and you have the set.
Now if you aren’t familiar with The Nymphs then I really do suggest you check them out as they have a peculiarly different take on rock with elements of garage, punk, glam and even good old hard rock about them. You’ll see a reverence for the traditions of past fighting with a desire to smash it up: an arty, tribal ferocious beauty. At its best its breathtaking especially in the context of the times, but sadly there’s also the fragility and danger and drugs and destruction in the background.
This live release isn’t perfect, it isn’t meant to be, but Inger’s voice is enigmatic as ever and some of the songs are wonderful even if the mix on the recording is rather unkind to the guitar especially on classics like ‘The Highway’. Let’s hope we get to hear some new music soon.