Built for speed. Wakefield warriors Vardis had one of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’s most charismatic characters in flaxen-haired axe hero Steve Zodiac. But while his fireball fretboard frenetics were vastly entertaining, the band’s songwriting abilities were not. Vardis wisely released a live album as their debut in 1980, hell-for-leather boogie-fuelled lunacy at its core. The aptly titled 100 M.P.H. (8/10) remains a red-raw combo of cage-fighter aggression and bullet-train acceleration, and contains Vardis’ best track If I Were King
– although its refrain of ‘If I were king, I’d rock’n’roll’ does conjure up a rather alarming picture of Charles, dithering mosh-pit monarch. The band were put into the studio for 1981 follow-up The World’s Insane (4/10) and completely ran out of steam; no boy-racer tyre-shredding shenanigans here, just a plethora of speed humps and trafficcontrol cameras. Police Patrol comes complete with bagpipes by the bloke who played harmonica on Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon (you couldn’t make it up) and the album reaches its nadir with a limp version of Hawkwind’s Silver Machine. This downward trend continued on 1982’s Quo Vardis
(4/10), an album that includes not only the retrospectively illadvised Gary Glitter Part One but also a track titled Where There’s Mods There’s Rockers along with the lyric: ‘Where there’s women there’s whores.’ No wonder Vardis’ recent re-formation caused barely a ripple.