A couple of fine old English stiffs visited the Bayou last night. They weren't dead, or drunk, or even dead drunk. "Stiff" refers to their record label, a noted purveyor of pimply perversity of the rock 'n' roll sort.

James Otway ambled out on stage and tore into music that sounded like down-home, Southern-fried, wild, wild, Western punk rock. He and his three-piece group played manic, clackety-clack versions of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and "The Green, Green Grass of Home," complete with screaming guitars and Cockney accents. Otway was an engaging singer whose act had all the charm of a pinch of tobacco between the cheek and gum.

Richard Strange opened the show with a solo performance that lived up to his name. Accompanied by a tape deck, Strange featured slick, David Bowie-ish songs that were filed with theatrics, and a not-so-dry wit. While his appearance and presentation were odd, Strange was nonetheless a straightforward rock 'n' roller who could have a certain commerical potential.

"This is the year of Richard Strange," he sang at one point, while row after row of empty chairs stood in mute protest. Still, you never know. Stranger things have happened.