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Music / The Kaisers

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"Take it to the bridge, lads!"

"We got a dance that's really in, oh yeah
from London town to old Berlin, oh yeah
Let's stomp, let's stomp, let's stomp
Everybody do the Kaiser Stomp!"
— "Kaiser Stomp"

Interviewer: "Do you consider yourself the "Bootleg Beatles?"
Kaiser George: "Absolutely not! (laughs) There's somebody already doing that, and that's just not what we're about at all. We're just a beat group. We're not trying to be The Beatles... we're not Gerry and the Pacemakers, you know, we're just The Kaisers."
BBC radio interview

The Kaisers (1992-2002) were a Scottish beat music/garage rock quartet, known for their peerless replication of the sound and look of the British (pre-Beatles) beat boom of the early '60s. This retraux approach extended to album cover art and merchandise to the point where you could sandwich a Kaisers record amongst a collection of legit '60s records and not know you were looking at an album recorded in the '90s until you took a closer look. They favored vintage attire, instruments and recording gear of the period, and recorded music mixed exclusively in monophonic sound, with few to no overdubs applied.

Contrary to media misconceptions that they were an all-out cover band (though to be fair, they always did have a good share of covers under their belt) they also boasted a respectable share of original compositions reminiscent of their beat influences such as Bern Elliott & The Fenmen, The Big Three, and The Undertakers, which also get points for sounding like legit '60s compositions. Original compositions would come to outnumber covers more for each new record released, to the point where their final album, released in 2002, contained only one.

The group went through a number of personnel changes over the years; all members had their own band alias in the form of "Kaiser" being attached as a prefix to their given name. George Miller (lead guitar) and Johnny Maben (drums) were the only constant members of the group, with Miller also being the group's primary songwriter (Maben being occasionally co-credited).


  • Squarehead Stomp! (1993)
  • In Step with The Kaisers (1994)
  • Beat It Up! (1995)
  • Wishing Street (1997)
  • Shake Me! (2002)

Tropes associated with The Kaisers:

  • Aborted Arc: They released an EP called Beat Session No. 1. There never was a second session.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Squarehead Stomp!
  • Album Title Drop: Averted with their three first, then played straight with title tracks with the last two.
  • Aerith and Bob: "Patricia Ann", "Sally Sue Brown", and... "Miserabella".
  • Affectionate Parody / Stealth Parody: Their entire act, especially some of their lyrics, cranks everything about '60s beat music and trends up to eleven. It's not really Stylistic Suck, so it's this.
  • Band Toon: Some of their releases feature a little cartoon Kaiser on the cover design somewhere.
  • Call-and-Response Song: Oh yes. "Twist It Up", for one, twists it up to eleven, including a gibberish call-and-response section reminiscent of Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher".
  • Careful with That Axe: Their vocals can be very energetic at times. Kaiser Johnny's vocal spots definitely take the prize here though.
  • Caustic Critic: Liner notes for several of their releases are written by one "Wilhelm Wimbledon", who takes cheap shots at the quality of their music any chance he gets. Since Mr. Wimbledon is, by all accounts, a fictional character, this constitutes a severe case of Self-Deprecation. More than likely a parody of the surly critics of the '60s that, for one thing, saw The Beatles as nothing but a pop fad that wouldn't last.
  • Christmas Songs: Released a 1997 Christmas single, "Merry Christmas Loopy Lu".
  • Cover Version:
    • Everything from beat music favourites of theirs ("Peanut Butter", "Some Other Guy"), to rock and roll standards of the day ("The Hippy Hippy Shake", "Leave My Kitten Alone"), to pop hits such as "I Just Don't Understand" (Ann-Margret), or "You're No Good" (Betty Everett).
    • Almost inevitably, beat groups cover The Beatles at some point. When The Kaisers did it, they dug up their old instrumental obscurity "Cry for a Shadow", the only composition credited to Harrison/Lennon. And this was before it became somewhat well-known due to its inclusion on The Beatles' The Beatles Anthology compilation.
  • Dance Sensation: At least one such song on each album, ranging from actual crazes to made-up ones. There's the Twist, the Wiki (not that kind) Waki Wu, the Alligator Twist, the Liquorice Twitch, the Hipshake Shimmy, the Paradiso Twist...
  • Darker and Edgier: Wishing Street. The album cover, in stark shades of grey, shows the group looking sad and weary á la Beatles for Sale, and more than ever there's a focus on "the girl's let me down" songs. Song titles include "Time to Go", "Lonesome", and "Why Did You Lie?".
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Most of their promotional material, as well as a live DVD that aims to replicate historical footage from the Cavern Club days.
  • Double Entendre: "I Want to Be Your Driver", full stop.
  • Evolving Music: Their career saw them going from balls-to-the-wall, happy-go-lucky, cover-oriented beat with a large side order of garage rock distortion, to more morose, nuanced beat that was almost entirely self-sufficient as far as material was concerned.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Not really a long enough fade-out to fool anybody, but genre-savvy peeps with the beat knowledge is just gonna know they're coming back for a last triumphant chorus reprise in "What'd I Say".
  • Instrumentals: At least one per album, almost all of which were originals. By far their most well-known song, "Whatcha Say?", is one (mostly), also an original.
  • Hot-Blooded: Yes indeed! (Which is also a song of theirs.)
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: A majority of their releases are quite rare and copies surface online only occasionally, though Squarehead has been reissued and Shake Me! received a larger print run than earlier albums. This may be averted in the not-too-distant future as further reissues are planned.
  • Lighter and Softer: Shake Me! marks a return to the more carefree tunes of earlier times. Heck, the cover even shows them smiling again and giving the thumbs-up for those in doubt!
  • Live Album: Twist with The Kaisers, recorded at the Second Story in Bloomington, Indiana.
  • Love Potion: Number nine, of course!
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Ain't That Just Like Me".
  • Money Song: "Money (That's What I Want)", natch.
  • New Sound Album: Literally; Wishing Street was recorded at a much higher fidelity than earlier albums. This was a direct response to (not entirely unfounded, just doesn't apply to The Kaisers) media criticism the beat revival scene of the '90s recorded in poor fidelity in order to mask poor musical workmanship.
  • Nursery Rhyme: "Ain't That Just Like Me" features direct quotations from several. "I'm a Hog for You", as well.
    Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow / Everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go / Now ain't that just like me, cracking up over you?
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. John and Johnny managed to avoid confusion, but there were two Kaiser Matts (Armstrong and Curtis), informally known as Kaiser Matt 1 and Kaiser Matt 2 respectively, for disambiguation's sake.
  • Performance Video: The little footage of them that can be found online consists of this.
  • Pun-Based Title: Beat It Up!
  • Retraux: Right down to the cheesy "hip" slogans and captions on album artwork and merchandise (which consisted of buttons with slightly off-model cartoon renditions of the band).
  • Rhyming with Itself: "Looking Back".
    I was looking back to see / if she was looking back to see / if I was looking back at her
  • Self-Titled Album: In Step with The Kaisers and Twist with The Kaisers.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Suits reminiscent of The Beatles' Cavern Club days. Comes with the beat territory.
  • Shown Their Work: If imitation truly be the sincerest form of flattery, beat music as a whole would be very flattered indeed. And the group's collective knowledge of beat tropes and trademarks ensures that their act is flawless.
  • Single Stanza Song: "WHATCHA SAAAAAAAAAAAAAY?!?"
  • Step Up to the Microphone: As was the beat tradition, most (if not all) members were given a vocal spot during performances.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: At least one beat ballad per album, occasionally being instrumentals.
  • Your Favorite: "Peanut Butter" isn't just a favourite song of theirs! Mashed potatoes and gravy also make frequent appearances in song lyrics.