Pic by Nigel Crane
It’s fair to say that when Rachel Stamp emerged on London’s rock scene in the mid-90s, nobody had seen anything like them in many years. Grunge had taken root at the start of the decade, while the metal scene had delved into new extremes of darkness. Real glamour was conspicuous by its absence. Fronted by the unashamedly gorgeous David Ryder Prangley, Rachel Stamp to the rescue!
Formed in 1994 by singer/bassist Ryder Prangley and guitarist Will Crewdson, the band went through a number of changes, making a name on the London circuit, before signing to WEA to record their debut album. As luck would have it, that album went unreleased when their A&R champion left the label. This would derail many young guns, but not to be deterred, they recruited new drummer Robin Guy, and set out on their own, crashing the lower reaches of the national charts with ‘My Sweet Rose’ on their own Bitch Vinyl imprint.
With the ‘classic’ line-up completed by keyboard-player Shaheena Dax, Rachel Stamp were the ones to watch, picking up serious media coverage from the likes of Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Metal Hammer and even the soaraway Sun, who were suitably outraged by the band’s ‘gender bender’ image.
Recorded and mixed in just seven days with producer John Fryer (Nine Inch Nails, Love And Rockets, White Zombie, HIM), Hymns For Strange Children was released in February 2000. Propelled by a swathe of rave reviews, a Kerrang! front cover, and the radio hit ‘Didn’t I Break My Heart Over You’, a major tour in support of the album climaxed in the band’s biggest ever headline show at the 2,000-capacity London Astoria, where they’d supported No Doubt, Korn and Cheap Trick just months previously.
Now, while all about us is doom and gloom, the world need Rachel Stamp more than ever! Twenty-three years on from its original release, Easy Action Records are releasing Hymns For Strange Children fully remastered and repackaged, for the first time ever on limited edition pink vinyl while a new CD edition adds six bonus tracks.
“We paved the way for a whole generation of fans to be themselves and not to blindly conform to what someone else told them they should be,” says Ryder Prangley today. “It was really tough to walk around looking the way we did back then. There was a lot of verbal and physical abuse directed towards us and I’m sure it was the same for our fans, but we all lived through it and came out the other side for the better.
“I meet a lot of musicians who used to come and see us play when they were teenagers and were inspired by us,” he adds. “But I don’t think there has really been a band since Rachel Stamp that mixed heavy, distorted guitars with synths and melodic vocals like we did. We’re still unique in that way and I’m very excited that Hymns For Strange Children is being re-released and hopefully reaching a whole new audience.”
Fans will get the chance to catch the band live with a special launch show at Islington O2 Academy on Friday 14 April, tickets on sale here https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/1F005E2DE27235FF