The Raybeats


It's no wonder Guitar Player magazine called The Raybeats' GUITAR BEAT "one of the ten best instrumental albums of all time." A supercombo with members of the B-52's (Pat Irwin), the Golden Palominos (Jody Harris), and Los Straitjackets (Danny Amis), The Raybeats formed out of the ashes of legendary New York no-wavers the Contortions. During the early 80's they were one of the most popular touring bands on the underground rock scene. Their music blended the best of instrumental pop music: surf rock, lounge and Stax/Volt soul together with the experimental no-wave sound of downtown NYC. Bar/None is proud to release GUITAR BEAT for the first time on CD, complete with extra tracks, rare vintage photos, new liner notes, memorabilia and more!


Guitar Beat

America's favorite combo formed casually out of the remnants of the original Contortions. The Raybeats were guys that knew their way around the New York underground of the late '70s- from jam packed discoteques like the Peppermint Lounge and Danceteria, to hipster rock joints like Tier 3 and the Mudd Club, capping it off in after hours clubs like AM PM and the Zodiac. They were snappy dressers, yeah the chicks dug 'em, they smoked a lot of cigarettes and crisscrossed the country on bogus airline tickets bringing their music to the demimonde from coast to coast. Things could get a little out of hand in the airport lounges, and once they trashed a hotel room, but only once. The Raybeats were sweet, yet dangerous: the kinda guys you could bring home to mom but who also knew people who wore rubber clothes and put liquid opium drops in their eyes.

At the time they were only instrumental rock 'n' roll combo in existence. They made music of their own design and if you listen to it now, almost 20 years later, it sounds "out" of time-hence timeless; right down to some of the cheezey special effects (electronic roto toms were a new thing in 1980). Hey, it's no wonder Guitar Player called this disc one of the ten most important instrumental albums ever made (or something to that effect). GUITAR BEAT was recorded on top of a cliff in England in a brand new studio, built by Martin Rushent (who had made those great Buzzcocks singles and would go on to make the Go-Gos debut album on the strength of his work with The Raybeats). The title track is Pat's favorite number, with its big open spaces like a pack of Link Wray's striding over a bleached white desert reverberating into grander canyons. This is modern American music-each song a chapter in a Bill Burroughs novel, cutting up sci-fi secret agents with the pulp of travelogues, voodoo recipes and bartending texts.

The Raybeats played a lot of shows and moved a lot of folks to their brave new sound. It's those great live shows that flash through the grooves of GUITAR BEAT. Like Jody Harris, who had a great way of turning his back on the audience wiggling his ass while he sank into a sweet chunk of twang bar feedback. And Pat Irwin, the ultimate showman, switching from sax to Acetone organ to second guitar. He also had some pretty happening dance moves that just might have helped land him a gig with the B-52s. And just how did Donnie Christensen keep that high hat ticking along in "Tone Zone"? And there was the late great George Scott who left behind some distinctive bass parts and some big black sneakers for the young Calhoun surfer Danny Amis to fill. Amis has carried on the Raybeats grand instrumental stylings with his band Los Straitjackets (currently donning their Mexican wrestling masks in a club near you).

The Raybeats took the history of instrumental rock ‘n’ roll and reconfigured it into something ancient, pure and totally of the moment. A moment like right now. “Modern music,” says Don listening back at a remastering session on the second day of 1997. I couldn’t agree more.
— Greg McLean