I’ve been a fan of Vardis for a long time, well over thirty five years. Bought 100MPH, The World’s Insane and Quo Vardis on vinyl back in the day so the grumpy old man side of me raised his eyebrows when I saw the press release for these reissues but after hearing what a fantastic job Dissonance Productions have done with them, it’s like listening to them with new ears and there are some fantastic bonus tracks spread along all three albums. There are six tracks from 1980 recorded at Air Studios in London and two live songs from the 100MPH recording sessions.
Founder member, lead vocalist/guitarist Steve Zodiac formed the band in 1973, changing the name from Quo Vardis to Vardis a while later. Their 1980 debut album 100MPH, is totally live with a label proclaiming “Guaranteed No Overdubs” was a brave move and a statement of intent of how potent they were onstage. The remastering breathes new life into the album as the opening chords to ‘Out Of The Way’ ring out. The riffs grind, the solos shine and the rhythm section of Alan Selway on bass guitar and Gary Pearson on drums pound along majestically! The album is faultless but personal highlights are ‘Move Along’ as it shifts into headbanging gear after the almost reggae like midsection. The main riff to ‘Situation Negative’ still raises the hairs on the back of the neck, as does the one in ‘Destiny’. The heavy blues vibe of ‘The Loser’ heads off full pelt midway, matched by Gary and Alan locking in hard behind Steve’s guitar heroics during ‘Let’s Go’. The title track is a marathon of air guitar heaven as the album closes with the adrenaline rush of ‘If I Were King’, a NWOBHM classic with the band firing on all cylinders as Steve’s telecaster feeds back like a banshee. The bonus tracks from the 100MPH sessions are a raucous ‘Too Many People’, with an intense guitar outro and ‘Steamin Along’ is a totally different animal to the studio version.
Their following 1981 release The World’s Insane was always going to be a tough act to follow it’s predecessor but the high octane opener ‘Power Underfoot’ puts the pedal to the floor. The title track is a nice slice of heavy blues and the commercial heaviness of ‘Blue Rock (I Miss You)’, brought back a lot of memories. Other highlights include ‘Silver Machine a faithful, souped up cover of the Hawkwind classic and the gritty ‘Police Patrol’ featuring some stirring bagpipes. The pace is brought down by another prime example of Steve’s knack of melody during ‘All You’ll Ever Need’ as the one two knockout punches provided by ‘Curse The Gods’ and ‘Love Is Dead’ precede the high energy boogie album closer ‘Steamin Along’. Bonus tracks are a raw as you like ‘Dirty Money’ ,a heavier than the studio version of ‘Blue Rock (I Miss You)’ and a spooky ‘Silver Machine (moog experiment)’, featuring a lengthy, psychedelic intro. All three tracks come from the Air Studios sessions.
1982 saw the release of Quo Vardis, which I still think is their heaviest studio album to this very day. Opening strongly with the the high energy shuffle of ‘Do I Stand Accused?’ and the obscurely titled ‘Where There’s Mods, There’s Rockers’ which is laden with catchy hooks and a foot tapping saxophone outro. ‘Please Do’ breezes along in the same vein, as does ‘Dream With Me’, featuring an intense outro guitar solo. Other highlights are the acoustic ‘To Be With You’, backed by haunting strings that still strangely brings to mind ‘Whiskey In The Jar’. A double whammy is provided by the full on aptly titled ‘Boogie Blitz’ and the harmonica backed piledriver ‘The Plot To Rock The World’ that closes the album is stupendous! Bonus tracks come once again from the Air Studios sessions. ‘Too Many People’ is one of my favourite Vardis songs , point proven by the melodies and piercing outro solo whereas ‘The Lion’s Share’ bulldozes it’s away to a crushing finish.
All three albums are released on CD Digipack and vinyl formats. CD’s are available now, vinyl not until October 20th 2017. A welcome Vardis reformation in 2014 has seen a flurry of well received live shows and an excellent comeback album in 2016 titled Red Eye.
100MPH track listing :-
Out Of The Way.
The Lion’s Share.
Living Out Of Touch.
If I Were King.
Too Many People (live bonus track).
Steamin Along (live bonus track).
The World’s Insane track listing :-
The World’s Insane.
Blue Rock (I Miss You).
All You’ll Ever Need.
Curse The Gods.
Love Is Dead.
Dirty Money (Air Studios sessions bonus track).
Blue Rock (First mix, Air Studios sessions bonus track).
Silver Machine (Air Studios sessions moog experiment bonus track).
Quo Vardis track listing :-
Do I Stand Accused?
Where There’s Mods, There’s Rockers.
Dream With Me.
Gary Glitter Part One.
To Be With You.
The Plot To Rock The World.
Too Many People (Air Studios sessions bonus track).
Current Vardis band line up :-
Steve Zodiac – Guitar/lead vocals.
Joe Clancy – Drums.
Martin Connolly – Bass guitar.