Two and a half minutes of careening punk-metal bile, Binky Philips and the Planets’ “Splitsville for Bust” sounds like something that could have been heard blaring out of a downtown New York club in the early Seventies. And there’s a reason for that: It’s a new and inordinately hooky rocker from a band that started way back when but has finally, after 27 years, gotten around to making a record.
The original version of the Planets formed in 1972 and was soon after opening for the New York Dolls at the famed Mercer Arts Center in New York. The band, fronted by guitarist Philips, went on to share the stage with the likes of Kiss and the Ramones and seemed headed for its own degree of fame and fortune. But a potential record deal with a major label imploded, as did the band soon after. Many of the Planets’ peers went on to some degree of renown; the Planets, however, remained a myth.
Philips went on to work in various aspects of the record business and chronicled his early rock years in a memoir, Life in the Ghost of Planets: The Story of a CBGB Almost-Was (Rhino), but he never gave up the music dream. Several years ago, he revived the Planets with a new a lineup and this year, the band released Established 1972 NYC, probably the most belated debut album in rock.
As “Splitsville or Bust” proves, the band has pretty much picked up where it left off, even with a new lineup that includes Philips, lead singer Nolan Roberts, bassist Mike Greenberg and drummer Bobby Siems. The guitar and rhythm are primal and strut, the lyrics a slew of spitballs at a romantic partner and even a pet (“I once had a cute kittycat /She-devil tore me to shreds/I coddled and cuddled, even let her get fat/Sank her fangs in the hand that fed”). Add in a flippant falsetto in the chorus, and you can almost smell the stale beer on the floor of a club.