FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 72
THE JAM - ALL MOD CONS
The Jam were on a roll when this album was released on the 3rd November 1978. It was an exciting time musically when, primarily due to the emergence of punk, anything could 'go'. Flavours were plentiful, people were more experimental, hard working bands got some degree of success. The Jam broke through, set up some sturdy foundations and here, started to build on a legacy. Distinctly British yet again, with many verbal attacks and gentle prods and full of recognisable constructions - was it the classic people deemed it to be? Weller apparently lost interest during the creation of this album - interesting don't ya think?
We commence with the title track 'All Mod Cons' a stab at fickle leeches who feed on brief success and don't care a jot about their host. A short sharp stand and deliver burst with the new wave full of a somewhat embryonic band - yes - still a fledgling to fly the nest - or are we too expectant after all these years gone by. A 4 count from an empty room, innocent guitar strums, confident bass, military sticks and the Weller delivery. To start an album with such an insipid number is a definite faux pas and I can take or leave this one no matter how many times I spin it. 'To Be Someone (Didn't We Have A Nice Time)', promises to increase the speed but potters along on featherlight chords and gentle assists. The band are still probing I feel and several delicate turns are taken where we get the feeling the crew have many options to go down. When the band decide to light the odd fuse here and there the whole song becomes a more detailed picture and moments deemed as ordinary are given a little more life, a little more chomp. Again though - nothing outrageously effective is had!
'Mr Clean' is the best offering thus far with a contemplative mood set, a shadowy essence given and a more polished end product attained. A simmering tension is only broken by the odd flare up, an instrumental drift and a pause for verbal thought. The main criticism of this one is that it somehow loses its own identity and direction by just hanging around too long - and that thought comes of a song that is only 3 minutes 27 seconds long - no great stretch is it? The song regards a change of state, a so-called perfect life in a class structure that is used and abused whenever it suits - blue collar/white collar tension, working class roots dug out of the mucky soil - who is the winner? A mad dash moment seems in order now with the next 4 tracks summed up as quick as necessary. You should all know 'David Watt's, a concrete cover song regarding the omnipresent twats at school who can do no wrong, feelings of insecurity, identity problems, naive jealousy - all delivered on a rising punctuated, somewhat military style, rhythm. Nifty stuff. 'English Rose' is a gentle sub-acoustic rivulet of rhythm that is loaded with dreamy yearning and faithfulness to (whatever you deem the meaning to be) a lady love or England as a country. It is what it is - soppy, sincere, smooth, patriotic - you decide but the fact it breaks up the CD's usual flow and is a fair song in its own right makes it worthy of note. 'In The Crowd' leaves me a little flat in parts and yet in others has the minor crescendos tickling my senses. A very hygienic trickle that seems to get the most out of the current production values. The verdict is split down the middle whereas with 'Billy Hunt' my thoughts are definitely swung towards the positive with the youthful hunger, the acute chomp, the chanted chorus and the general recognisable facets of the band all winning favour. The final wind up outstays it's welcome but hey even I have a little tolerance now and again.
5 left and the swift approach still adopted. 'It's Too Bad' is a light harmonised number with a sub-Beatle guitar stroke sneaking in and a kind of upbeat feeling. Loads of aromas from future Jammy melting pots that at the time must have been fresher than they appear now - some songs are very hard to judge when the retrospective distance is so long. Time can always be guaranteed to enhance the sheen if the eyes looking back are nostalgic or tarnish the lustre if the peepers take a more realistic outlook! After a few plays though I find this a little inoffensive number - oooh I sound like a pompous wine taster! 'Fly' is more acoustic twiddling that displays the bands intention not to be easily categorised despite their single output doing just that! I guess the crew (especially Weller) must have been frustrated by this but what the hell - the crack is well known. This one rises higher, takes many indecisive moments and is a song I find quite offensive. Just really not my thing and a wayward ponse about with no grabbing effect. Once again I suppose many will disagree! It is played well and produced exactly but I just fuckin' hate it - bah!
'The Place I Love' begins the trio home and has a groovy drift at the fore. A steady rumble is had that is rather flat and only when the guitars open up (oh so briefly) and the band relax and tones are given breathing space does the song shine - just not enough in the tank this one. This cannot be said about the closing tracks, namely the bold and hammering 'A Bomb In Wardour Street' and 'Down In The Tube Station At Midnight'. Both are excellent tracks (and for the last number that is a pure understatement) and do what they set out to do in no uncertain terms. The penultimate track pumps along with much rising angst, and niggling persuasion - a perky fuck that won't settle on its arse. It has a point to make, prods and pokes until one listens good and...is a fuckin' good do all round. The latter track has a fascinating bass line showing Foxton at his accomplished best, the drums simmer and splat when necessary, strings do just enough and Weller finds his pure niche and shines like the star he was set to become (but we don't wanna go down that route - fuck all the stars). The docu-delivery is laden with atmospherics and easily related to lyrics. The scene set, the kicking that comes, the brutality, the everyday things that seem so small and yet keep us so safe and...the creation of wariness and fear. A gargantuan moment on which to end.
So at this stage in proceedings how do I feel about this CD so many rave about. Well unimpressed, startled by the contrast between the mundane and the magnificent and mainly wondering if the perhaps the band shine too bright in places and so make less outstanding areas seem even more in the shadows. Questions, questions - so few answers but an honest review I think - now your turn!
THE BROTHEL CORPSE TRIO - HANGING IN THE WHORE HOUSE
I got this CD through the post and can't for the life of me remember conversing with anyone about it and arranging a review - boy am I fuckin' addled! Anyway into the player it went and several spins on several different occasions in several different places later I have an opinion. But first...after scanning the web-waves for info it seems that this 3 piece horror punk band have a fetish for singing about fucking zombie girls and eating human brains amongst other choice ghastliness. Then I discovered the source of the CD - vocalist Phil used to be in a band called Bacchus (fine noise makers) and he asked me to partake and assess his latest racket making crew - ah it's all so clear now! Anyway hailing from Aberdeen this set of scary swingers seem to have found a nice niche market and by all accounts are attracting a decent crowd of 'easily corrupted individuals'. Sounds like fun. I know many a psycho-billy bounder who'd love this and so here is my lowdown of some sinister sonica!
The vault opens and the first horror to unfold is signed up as 'Come Die With Me', a title that gives visions of 4 people dining at one another’s houses using nothing more as ingredients than arsenic and human remains. We clatter straight in with a bare-boned sound that packs clout. Fast and energetic with a buzzing drive and shadowy, hollowed out vocal style typical of the sub-genre. Not many do this style so quickly and this lot do it remarkably well. The airspace is crammed with incessant pulsations, beats, bands, slaps, thrums and strums. A fidgety fuck of a number seemingly alive with a thousand flies of discordance - just an ever-moving vibe and one to awaken the most indolent of arses. 'In The Tomb' is almost its equal but gives one a little more time to ponder but when the gobbage comes in it kind of escalates oh so slightly and with each ascension squeezes a little more breath out of both deliverer and receiver. The opening salvo is highly encouraging and when one starts to bop you will not stop until you undoubtedly...drop! 'Bringing Back The Dead' flashjacks in on showy strings before adopting a rhythm that stops and starts and leaves the words to break the brief silences. Sliding into the chorus is no trouble and this is yet another decent bone to chew on. Out of all three efforts thus far this latter outpouring has greatest diversity and contrast with some moments reaching higher and creating a lighter sensation. Crucial indeed and although I enjoy the entire trio donated the gentle variation is needed so as to avoid a flatline feel that could numb appreciation.
'Join The Undead' displays the bands intent on trying to maintain a strong, pacey impetus and they do this with an exactness I find rewarding. Already the band have an identifiable component and a well-rehearsed style that keeps all in time and as tight as a woodlouses chuff! There is a bold suggestion of a formula going on here and I have reservations as to whether the band will whip it to death or not (they seem to be in for that kind of deviancy). So far though all is appealing and the best song is yet to come with 'Brothel Bride' surely my favourite to the dittified date. A freer flow is found, a good reliable riff, a more ensnaring vibe so blatant and with all the good assets the band have, and duly pour in, I will be surprised if this effort gets outdone. The quick burst of sticks, the cool breezed approach, the simplicity all become concrescent and make a minor winner.
By heck - track 6 already and 'Digging Up Corpses' rocks in with a twist before chugging along on high fuelled zest levels. The vocal tones that rise above the machine-like drive are cold and stark and add an adequate contrast to the overall recipe. The meaty grind really wins ones favour and although not the most melodic of moments something intrigues and so we go into 'It's Alright' with a more zoned in feel. This latter track is a thriving gem and combines a football terraced-street based sing along cut of simplicity with just a thumping episode of blood surging liveliness. Just a fuckin' good song with a saturated effect, a honesty in the production and an overall irresistible vibe that even the most addle headed noodle can pick up on. It isn't rocket science and it never need be but it does need a good band to pull it off and thankfully the BCT boys seem to be just that!
The band now seem to have upped their game with 'Hanging In The Whore House'. We feedback in, take a steady rein and drive along with the crew who create a nasty pasty of a song that has dark sentiment, cavernous essence, rock steady attention and yet more sing-a-long brilliance. One can see the dance melee such songs of this can (and hopefully will) create and the whole discordance is delivered with confidence and likeable effect. I am loving this build up to the finale and 'Do Zombies Have Feelings Too' continues this emotion with yet another bouncing boomer filled with all the bands usual trimmings and idiosyncrasies. Some jailbird jive ass blues are hinted at, a smack of rebellion sprinkled, the horror inclusion necessary, the contributions from all players exact - yet another concrete crack to savour.
The closure throws a veritable prowling cat amongst the previous fluttering pigeons with a sobered stabilisation on a serious tale of a mans thoughts as he awaits the final curtain via the hands of the executioner. 'Death Row' is a pondering gem that aches with regret, hopelessness and ultimate abandon. The rise in tonal temperature is choice, the 'Animal'esque touch noticeable, the delicacies of delivery highly applaudable and so we leave on a varied note that offers much promise - always the way to do it!
I am taken, The Brothel Corpse Trio come forth, present their own brand of horror rock and roll and leave me wanting more. The final track is a nice seal on a comfortable CD and if the potential is tapped this 10 track effort will undoubtedly be topped and that my good peruser is our pleasure. The fantastic vibes just keep on rolling - what can a reviewer do these days. Nice one chaps!
THE JAM - SETTING SONS
No 4 in the Jam studio discography and trying to give you a taste of what to expect if you purchase the recent box set of CD's that any discerning retro peruser should pick up on. Rising higher in the publics echelons of appreciation (however credible that is) The Jam were on a serious ascent at this point using commercial success and the aforementioned favour to really drive home their racket. Things step up production wise and the band seem to have found a firmer foothold as regards recognising their own sound although in reality the band never did settle in one spot for too long. Many toes were dipped during this jaunt and many aromas are had - does my hooter find them impressing or depressing - the honesty pours forth as thus:-
'Girl On The Phone' is a sonically speckled number that rings in, eagerly struts along on glassy guitar and bopping bass lines. Verse breaks down into cluttered sub-chorus cuts, punches come in flurries, direction is had, lost, had - and we get left with a busy bumbling number that stirs too many ingredients too quickly. Many listens needed here to fully grasp but I still stand unswayed in my opinion of an average song. 'Thick As Thieves' is a far better number and starts in frugal style with guitar nudging its way in oh so carefully. A rise and then an open, fresh blast of verse before another build and a repeat. Into the chorus and The Jam at their finest with all components operating perfectly and giving the gobbage enough sonic space to shine. The tones are fluffed up but have gumption so as not to be regarded as too cushy and mellow. A theft comes from another Jam song I am sure you'll know (or vice versa) but that doesn't detract from a darn good do here!
'Private Hell' next and a song with a efficacious feel that has a weighted edge most surely sought by the players. The wordage deals with an aging wife whose lustre in life has been tarnished by the everyday creeping malevolence known as Humdrum. Things that were once fresh and oh so novel are now faded, jaded and unoriginal. The depression ensues, the bleak aspect of all tones and the sobered matter of fact delivery make this one an unenjoyable treat (if you understand the paradoxical oxymoron). Great stuff! 'Little Boy Soldiers' is an unorthodox march against the idiocy of war and is an erudite effort posted in varied movements with the controlled angst well noted. We take may turns, each one with persuasive edges, but somehow this invariably disconnected tune comes together and works - be that down in the main to the believability of the lyrics I know not but it is surely one of the main factors. 'Wasteland' chases in with 60's innocence and then swings around on rhythmic ropes of fond nostalgia where time stands still, worries are ignored and the only pleasure to be found is the one at immediate hand. Saccharined without sickliness and filled with child-like/adult viewpoints the yearning is apparent, the insight into people’s basic desires obvious - the band do this thing very well indeed!
'Burning Sky' and 'Smithers-Jones' next, both tracks continuing the flavour set, both with a moderate flow and both avoiding outlandish detail and affect. The former track is a somewhat lightweight affair in parts, a bit more progressive in others and almost a bit too staccato overall. It aims at hammering in many nails but just misses most acoustic heads and leaves a general flimsy unfinished construction. Personal thoughts of course but just the view I seem to be confronted with at all times. The latter is a Foxton composite I personally deem to be one of the bands finest moments. Starting with an orchestral slant that gradually rises as the commuter goes to his place of toil with senseless ambition, pointless routine and draining necessity the order of the day we culminate to a final rage that states 'Work and work and work and work till you die, There's plenty more fish in the sea to fry' proving you don't have to blast down the stubborn walls to make a pertinent point. A stunning arrangement and confirming that The Jam's potential (at this stage) was still not fully tapped.
3 left with 'Saturday's Kids' back to the usual fare with observational clarity and quality of real working class life combined with sharp sonic attention to make this a worthy listen. The reality is key and this is something that many 60's and 70's street urchins can relate to where affect was banished due to the strong arm of necessity and expectation. From one fair song to a mammoth known as 'Eton Rifles'. Cracking rhythm, thumping wordage, every element orgasming as one - The Jam reach a zenith - you should all know and mainly agree with this class war rage - a fuckin' 100% classic - no further explanation needed. We close with 'Heat Wave', a cover of Martha and the Vandellas classic that really got a few backs up of the ardent Jam fans. Hey so what - it is a cover after all and cover songs are not my bag but sometimes they lighten the tones and help a band relax. This effort is not a bad do albeit a little too cluttered. The beat though is good and encourages a stupid bout of jigging (after a few beers what else can ya do) so although not a great way to finish I ain't really griping.
Hit and miss again I reckon for this one with the hits big and bold and some others rather forgettable and easily filed away and never yearned for. The main aspect for me is that the band keep flapping around in many fields - you still get the feeling they are looking for new fertile grounds to create different cacophonies and that usually brings success and failure in equal measure but...the art is in the trying. The Jam though mainly succeed - hence their popularity over the years.
BURNING FROM THE INSIDE - DEMO
A crew from the North West of England and one built on sturdy foundations and strong experience - these are no spring chickens and have no time to cluck about so hope is had that they are keen to produce some quality. Already they have played a couple of Fungal gigs and proved to be a right dinkum outfit with bold riffage and well thought out tunes - a few of which immediately get ensnared in the old noggin. At the time of writing I don't know if this initial 3 track demo is up for grabs but I am sure if you contact the band directly they will burn you off a copy - nice chaps they be. So 3 tracks as a taster, what are the Fungalised thoughts gonna be?
'Falling Fast' opens with surfed up tribal drums before zumming forth via competent strings. A bit of flash Harry trimming and the gobs are in. Stated, iced and separated with abandoned 'Whoa hoa's' the initial thoughts are of a steady, sanguine step that increases its effect by slipping into a neat chorus without fluster. Eventually we break and things sizzle up and more atmosphere is created whilst the intensity still remains and is still well controlled. Plenty of bully beef is added, some good chuggage and oodles of bold riffage - wham - a very good start to the bands outpourings. Creeping forth next is the horror laden 'Watch The Bodies Burn', an apocalyptic nightmare filled with holocaustic terror and bleak hopelessness. The band play it cool and have Wilf the bassist at the helm on gobbage before the usual spouter fills in on chorus duties. From the initial threat we open more into cold disillusion with all essence and intensity kept at the maximum. We slip into a dreamier moment where the 4 wires do indeed wobble (literally in one spot at least I think) and we feel a little out of kilter. The only criticism of the entire three tracks is here and I reckon this episode could have been a little tidier and a lot more acute. The song soon gets over it though and travels to the final heated blast and despite the hiccup I am left with a taste of a really good contrasting effort - gotta keep em' tight though!
'Liar' grooves up, slashes inward, has the necessary hop and bites hard and comes forth as the most initially attractive song. Scuffling, shuffling, loaded with the most irate temperament and very corrosive this one will undoubtedly be the one most will pick up on after those initial spins. Plenty of action, sound application. great melody and a saturation of the sound space as well as many sub-flavours jostling for attention - yes - and nice and spiteful too. The wind down is ideal and BFTI have made a choice impact.
I already like the band, like the chaps involved and yes like this (despite the niggle mentioned). Take my word for it when I tell you they have some great songs in the tank and if they tap the potential, run with the hunger and get some breaks then I hope this crew can get some decent attention. Unfortunately they exist in an odd arena where tickling arses and palming off falsehoods is all the rage but if it were based on noise alone then no problems would arise - bah! Do it lads, do it well and on evidence like this people will have little to grumble about. Check out the band people!
THE POOR GEEZERS - SONG'S FROM BEYOND THE PATIO
Patchwork punk, hotch-potch acoustica, wayward dabblings - call this what you will but one thing is for sure The Poor Geezers play by their own rules and do their own thing. Overall the band please, here they mainly confound but the point is - they are happy doing things and despite not everything on this latest offering hitting the Fungal hotspots my respect is still there (in no uncertain terms). Much of what I dabble in and do may be classed as 'shite' by the many but my heart and soul is honest and in it up to the neck I be and that my Doubting Thomas' is fuckin' pure success. This is a lengthy effort and due time has been taken to place apt wordage alongside chosen tuneage - it is never easy to keep this assessing lark going but full effort is given at all times. Let's crack on and see what this duo (and a few friends) are puking up our way.
Due to the track listing being all over the place (in true patchwork style) and no cohesiveness between this, that and t'other I myself am going to bumble along with this review and try and compose it without mentioning one song title (for fear of going arse over tit). A monologue approach no less - and why not.
The silence is broken, a poetical snip comes via Eagles dulcet tones, he questions your snide ways, no sooner in than done - a wedding bell blast - on we go to a familiar tribal beat. Haunted aromas, bargain basement production values, utter identifiable reality - the hard up 'erberts are here and trundle out a toon that is frosted and without frill. This is what they do, some may find it too sober, some will just bob along to the gentle trickle - get used to it - no apologies are needed although the wind out is shabbily attired. And so forth...into a nice drifted tune where guitars pleasure themselves with light touches and careful caresses whilst Eagle states his facts and always maintains that suggestion of belief, spiritual openness and bare-buttocked honesty. Thinking mans vomit - filled with subtle colours that are only uncovered if one is prepared to get mucky and perhaps infected. A moribund tale highly contrasted by the pursuing phantom of eeriness that is 'Amazing Blues' (oh bother I have mentioned a song title). The intentions behind this track (which apparently comes second on the disk according to the track list on the back) are good and I can see where they are trying to come from (and go) but...and a very big but...I just can't abide it and find it almost insane. Is that harsh, am I wrong? All I can be is honest and with each spin I feel ever more terrorised by a shambling presence soaked in lunatic garb and misdirected melody making. It could have been a magnificent moment filled with glory but I feel we get a very horrible story on which not to dwell - whooosh - on I bloody well run...headlong...into...a nice wander that is subdued, warm, subtly textured and overlain with soothing trinkets of toneage. It is much needed. The next jaunt is one of the best, a lovely slice of adoration and heart warming transparency. Sweet susurrations flow like liquid serenity above a tiptoed string section that just does, quite adequately, enough!
I was going for one long paragraph of wordage but hey - it looks too vulgar!
Breather needed, cup of cha' - on we go.
Hill-Billy insanity chases with sliding strings, sun-soaked spice and 'Puppet On A String' ain't too bad but lacks the overall beauty of its two predecessors. One can almost see the spittoon wobble after taking another hit, the dungarees drop to the floor, the eyes roll back and a naked hee-haw ensue. Again a few scary visions hit the fore of the noggin and jiggin', swiggin' pot-bellied throwbacks waggling purple tipped asps whilst partaking of a finger jug of moonshine are forever in my mind - brrrrr! Eagle offers utterances of sagacious insight and then we trip along into another beauty that touches the soul. The remote, desperate aroma that is given off from the PG flames is where the bands true destiny doth lay and combining the acoustica with drifted words and Eagles fine wisdom will one day produce a true masterpiece that will bowl many a doubter over. This is a very good effort and gets a big thumbs up. Crazed 'Patio' lunacy next with a warped mind at work and a boast of his latest victims. There be bodies under the patio, the CD takes a gruesome turn - isn't it a common trait of murderers to be brazen about their achievements - oooh chilling. The song has a comical appeal though perhaps throwing cacophonic compost over its true meaning - call the police - NOW!
I need another break! Shakes nervously, drops some medication, wipes the brow and then...
A lady on the cusp, PMT Blues are biting hard, I am once more thrown into the land of fear - this bitch with blood is gonna burst baby. A fine moment of feminine terror - laden with utter ominous malignancy - beware, beware! More blues follow with a plodding 3*3 approach, no flamboyance, slack jawed 'get down boy' delivery - Christianised, honest, not caring for outside necessity - it is what it is! More wordage - a dig at the corporate whores and then, a drift again...a desperation, a searching soul, the crew in need and following on...another episode of soft lens sonica, straight off the pillow, straight out of slumberland. The crew are throwing many angular cuts together making this haphazard concoction of many colours. No rules, never fools, always using varied tools...of tone..and just going with whatever the hell they want to...sometimes reaching high, sometimes delving low, now and again flat-lining, you just never know! This latter snippet of naturalness is well taken and easy to get along with - nice!
Still in there, keep those peepers and lugs open, on we go...
'Road Runner' gets heat hazed, gets given a nasal injection, is cursed with a dirty back water virus - it is a cover done in homage to a master - no insult found. The next jaunt meanders and tries to persuade one to sell ones soul to the pop idol. A squelchy potter - barely raising its head to get its message across - a bit too idle rather than idol this one! On into a clear strum session, a count and then a brisk escapade down wind blown avenues where heels bounce with new found confidence and then...the song becomes more subdued. I have my doubts but male/female harmonies mis-contrast and amazingly work - salt and pepper - alone harsh - together quite appealing. Almost like a clearing of the airwaves this one - any clogged tubes given a good old splutter and splatter and all congestion eased. 'Side Effects' next, Eagle stamping on, Creepy crooning away, verse stated, chorus sedated - not bad and with enough oddity to perk up the lugs of the loon and the seeker of curios. By gum this lot produce some right experimental stuff - pure DIY! Sub Sergio Leone next, a light gallop over sandy undulations, another encouraging shuffle - whispered again, no rush - why when things are so serene and comforting? There is no reason and we roll on further down the road next in a similar style but with less trot and more pluck. The sound here is rather 'boxed', echoed and from a sewer - a street sound with extra shit on top to keep that reality factor, to show these dudes are not in to make merry mundaneness but to offer heartfelt filth they have their souls drenched in. Like it, lump it, love it or hump it - you can't argue with where they are coming from!
Final stretch and more acoustica that is a rivulet of almost regret and apparent loss. Time moves on, the band do so as well - another nice trickle but too much of the same and we needed a desperate explosion at this stage. I said 'explosion' not 'breakdown' and that is what you get next - the mental collapse of Eagle whose utterances are beyond the wrestling ropes of sanity and spill forth from lips that seem stroked, coked or even choked - what a bloody mad man! Relief comes with another sanitised sweep along via the harmonica, drums, strings and cool breathed voice - again too much, too similar - we are getting overfed and I fear the whole dish is going to force an upchuck rather than an upturn (of the thumb). The track ends like someone agrees and the needle has been ripped off the disc (old school talk). We drive on with political chanting, ranting style the crew do now and again - it gets the point across, it sticks to primitive ways - it drifts in and floats - another ‘say it, pause, say it, pause number’! It preaches pacifism, the ethos is nice, it gets on without fluster and bluster - one of Eagles 'live' offerings - we stutter out the final breath - we are finally...done.
The good - well a diverse mix and showing that the outfit do live up to the DIY patchwork tag, the bad - too much of the same on a CD that needs to be two separate entities, the ugly - man have you seen these two fellas? Overall though I like this shit, I thoroughly commend efforts of this basic DIY nature and it gives hope to all (which was one of a certain scenes main ingredients). We have moved on, but who is to say it is in the right direction - there is a place for gutsy, as you are, noise making and my only suggestion would be to keep this minimalistic, tweak here and there in the slightest way and keep releases to 8 track maximums so as to increase the impact level. Have a gander - it is out of kilter enough to intrigue the most ardent seeker of awkwardness.
THE JAM - SOUND AFFECTS
As a continuation of my reviews of The Jam for the recently released box set of albums as requested by Prescription Press - almost a little out of order due to a computer glitch but I am getting there. This is the bands 5th effort and was initially released on 28th October 1980 on Polydor Records and is cited as Weller's favourite Jam offering. Again we have many obvious facets and some that seem to belong somewhere else which all makes for an interesting listening experience. The style is once more 'from the bloke down the pub' and gives a certain commentary feel to what transpired at the time.
First gambit and 'Pretty Green' slowly dabbles around and fails to set alight any musical kindling. The notes hit aren't exactly as pretty as the old pound ones and this is something of a weak opening thrust that really doesn't fill one with the most confidence for what is to come. Bass opens with a stop start heartbeat whilst cymbals are shuffled and so add a nervous edge one expects to explode. It doesn’t really come and we get a song that seems an unravelled conundrum. 'Monday' follows and once more doesn't grab and squeeze the listening bollocks, however the lighter undulations of tone do increasingly magnetise with each listen and the soft placement of each individual player’s contribution does work quite well. Like the serene lapping waves of a gently restless sea this one has hidden depths and power - worth taking time over. 'But I'm Different Now' ups the tempo and has plenty of zing factor with an adrenalin rush of fidgety musicianship buzzing about here and there with a non-stop impetus to the final strum downs. This one works even better than it should due to its positioning after the previous less energetic tracks and is a welcome upsurge in application. I ain't dawdling this time around folks - keep up with me at your peril.
'Set The House Ablaze' begins in serious style, is diluted with whistling oddments, then darkly thumps along with bass and drums regimented throughout the entire verse segment. Chorus cuts are hazy and not as sharply snapped as perhaps is necessary therefore losing some of the overall whack. Some aspects are lost within a wanky productive weave and the wind down further washes out the song. A distinctly average effort that could have been more - these buggers crop up often throughout the reviewing process and even acclaimed bands like The Jam fall guilty of this crime. 'Start' corrects all alignment of the CD with a stunning bop-along groove overlain by floating tones and non-aggressive artistry. The theme of the song as far as I can make out is of a brief encounter that makes an impression - a face that flits through your life and somehow leaves a scar - be that positive or negative! 'That's Entertainment' shuffles in next and takes the most mundane (and taken for granted) aspects of life and dresses them up with poetical garb of vivid hues and matter of fact essence. The most bleak moments, the most suffocating trivialities are given life - albeit with a slumbering pulse. A very pure, unadulterated step into acoustic stratospheres and, in brutal truth, done oh so fuckin' simply - a glimpse of genius!
A quick dash and 'Dream Time' floats forth, picks up a stylish thread but flitters and flutters a little too much for my liking and seemingly comes across as a song for the Jam purist whereas 'Man In The Corner Shop' is much more to my favour with an easy style, an attractive mellowness of tone, a melancholic dreamy refrain and wordage that deals with class, status and envy all rolled into one. Understated and intrinsically simple but having so much more weight than noted on the initial listens. 'Music For The Last Couple' is experimental pottering at first breaking into a sub-skank shatter glass effort before continuing as an unscratched itch that niggles the senses with numerous irksome sensations. The band seem to be testing themselves within the individual, seemingly improvised, interpretations but one or two moments do work but - this one still gets classed as an oddity though. A wanderer without a care is bottled next and passed over for us to look upon and take note. 'Boy About Town' is a glimpse of the new style band with brassage invading the passage of rhythm and more modernised influences shining through. The gay in the village may be the subject matter, the one destined for a predictable ending - or do I misread it. The song though ain't a bad little tinkle! 'Scrape Away' closes all proceedings with a tribal, primitive rhythm and a shout out for change in various ways. Vocals from a smoky backstreet with a detective-like feel, a very distinctive 80's flavour and an awkward overall mis-melody - yeah I really don’t like this one but recognise the tendrils that reach out for new nutrients that will feed fresher noise.
Again, as is the case with all Jam albums, some good, some bad thus making each one decent enough but far from a classic. The Jam do hit some outrageous pinnacles but also plummet with equal intensity - I guess that is how it goes when tinkering with the tone so bloody persistently. Go on, disagree - the reviewers life is a thankless one!
BAD TRANSMISSION - FEEL THE HIT EP
My sonic scrotum swelled with high pleasure, my organ of acoustic love throbbed, my nipple of noise stood proud like buffed up wine corks and I almost shit myself with delight. It may sound like a confession regarding a diseased liaison with Arbuthnot 'The Living Anus' Shagwell, the champion seducer of all that breathes but no...these were my sensations when watching Bad Transmission for the first time, where I went with untainted biased and expected sweet fuck all! Wow fuckin' wee I didn't know what hit me! Since the debut viewing I have managed to miss out on seeing the band at least twice locally and so am in need of another BA fix. This CD was expected to help, but would it meet the high levels of expectation - they set the standard not me - any boo boo and wham - I'm in there like a disappointed deviant at a Eunuchs convention.
We open with the title track titivator, 'Feel The Hit', a brassed up welcome that soon develops into a skank-a-scuffle ruffle of the frisky feathers and gets one flying high with resounding zest and appreciation of a well designed song albeit a trifle simplistic in outward appearance. Each note however is exact and this effort brings reminders of numerous other skanky bands who are much further along their own chosen career threads (no bad thing). Accomplished, sprightly and certainly polished to the max - no complaints and the fact it encourages a tipple is always gonna win favour. 'All Take No Give' is a more reggaefied track and has its foot off the accelerator but, despite my thirst for fast action, is a real pleasure and more than likely the one I would tip for the top of this excellent quartet. Harmonious, casual, fluent, with a pellucid message that avoids unnecessary wordage and with many soft sonic hues that blend together and so make a tender swirl to plunge into. Delicate but still with underlying strength - the band are really into 'their thing' here and pass over some of that belief with choice aplomb. The undulations are precise and the lucidity of the whole meandering drift applauded.
'Another Gig' tickles forth and reminds me of so many other crews (even more so when the brass helps out). More jived ass, a needy edge and a great chorus that will obviously encourage crowd participation. There isn't a lot to add to this song - it gets on with the job, is sweetly mixed, has a carefree essence, breaks up now and again for a bit of musical jiggery pokery and pleases the sonic senses. 'Frighteningly Fast' is more textured, more level and filled with a cool touch of fear. The encouragement to get on with things is a nice contrast and this slower approach to proceedings seems to suit the band quite nicely. Both musically and vocally we have a high standard set and the crew seem to operating with such precocious ease that one wonders which upper echelons they will be at in a few years time. Soothing and thought provoking and utterly bang on the button - class and nothing less.
Sometimes as a reviewer you get things that are almost too good to review which almost becomes a negative - strange to say the least. Bad Transmission have set off and set an absolutely stunning standard and the poor buggers are now going to have to live with it - nowt like a challenge! Look if you like ska of the most efficient kind and gushing quality then this is most definitely for you - now join me and go and find out when their next gig is and try and get there and indulge yerself.
WRECKS - HEY MURDER
Manchester based, hauling in varied influences, kicking the melting pot to fuck and seeking self-desired direction this fine crew give you a debut spillage of the most assorted kind and thrive on a diet of garish fodder many will want to partake of and a few fussy impatient fucks will turn their noses up at. Either way respect must be given for the unorthodox dish prepared and for the non-routine mix of all that transpires. Heavy, syrupy, slick in parts, turgid in others - you get what you get and here is a sampling assessment.
'Arms' ruffles its furry ass with a good riff that has regular rhythm stroked by the front lasses liquid serenity. We seem to be smoothed until the action opens up, a flame rises and lungs are wonderfully cleared. Usual charge follows with the ensuing blow out and then into a twisted sub-break where theatrical hauntings appear oh so briefly. A range of cacophony is crammed into the 2 minutes 45 second running time and this one seems over in the blinking of a watchful eye - sign of something impressive methinks - replay button where are you?
'Not' is an episode of seeming disjointed experimentation with emphasis on creeping, rather than sweeping, threat. From the acoustic plug hole drips a noxious liquid of noise many may sip from and come away choked. You have to take your time and only partake a bit at a time to get the full flavour and intent. True - the initial drip is difficult to get to grips with but as one travels deeper into the din the impetus impels interest and one can get quite intrigued with a fascinatingly uncomfortable track. Again plenty of oral and acoustic ranges covered - I reach for the replay button again but for different reasons!
'Mona' has me on my back foot as soon as I noticed the 6 minutes 24 second running time, with my short, sharp loving soul irked (I really should know better). A shimmer, an encroachment on my private silence, delicate notes and murmurs try to persuade and unsettle - I remain firm. The heat in the crooked impressionistic kitchen rises, more angular vulgarity is tipped over our heads. A pseudo-chorus breaks from the sonic womb and reeks of torture - we creep onward. Melodic thumbscrews twist downwards with an undercurrent of pain - the band are beneath a self-made numbing ocean and they do well to make themselves heard. I am split with this one - the application and theatrical artistry appeals, that darn running time offends and removes some of the polish - bugger it.
3 songs, much to consider, much to get ones addled head around. After seeing this lot 'live' I didn't expect anything easily digested to come my way for review and I was fuckin' right. The factor that wins my vote though is that this avoids routine and goes with its own odd flow and is played with a passion - that is far more important than meeting the nebulous needs of a genre - yes - go see Wrecks and give yer brain a challenge. Like me you may be entranced and have difficulty in shaking out the numerous unanswered questions.
NERVOUS TWITCH - BAD REPUTATION EP
There ain't nowt wrong with a bit of geeky garage especially when it is played by a good band who stick to the fundamentals and create the expected hollowed out sound and add a little essential surfy grime. Keep the poppy edge, restrict running times to maintain high interest and do everything with a high sense of joy and ...Bob may be thy fuckin' uncle! Nervous Twitch are a band I gave a gig to blind (I like to do that) with trust placed in guitarist Jay and his knowledge of noise - I wasn't disappointed. A CD was received and here I am wondering what to scribble about a bands releases whom have already impressed me in the field. Hey I am over 700 CD reviews down the line - this thing gets no easier, especially with all this good stuff around. Anyway here is my take on the lo-fi workings of another band who have tickled my noise soaked senses.
Crisp clean cut guitar, dustbin lid drums, female frosted mouth work, an easy to pick up lyrical thread. 'Bad Reputation' has all the minimalistic trashiness very much embodied by a fine sub-genre where low brow acoustica, primitiveness and an almost detachment from routine rock is had. Very back to basics and as a result beautifully offensive to the lovers of the clean cut shit out there. The song wraps around itself, as a good jerk in the surfy undercurrent and meets my throwback desires perfectly. 'You Don't Matter No More' is a close shaven number bristling with polluting spines that many will turn up their misdirected hooters away from in case they may get poisoned (silly bastards). The cheap buzzsaw is switched on, the male (and accompanying female) oral orifices get electrified, the main system gets tamed and what we get is a right mucky saunter that follows on from the previous track quite nicely thank you.
Next and a 50's Private Investigator gets all televised, shafted with a U.F.O attack, twists and turns in a slow swirling melting pot of retro back street insidiousness and unfolds as an instrumental to shuffle and shake to. A Sci-fi-delic montage for sure, that is how I deem 'Shake Of The Damned'.
Back on track...
The gritty 'Same Old Style' is like a stubborn turd squeezed from experienced buttocks, strained, cause for concern, worth the effort when the splash is made. The somewhat constipated sound is dealt with by unflustered laxative application and what could be deemed yet more discomforting dumpage is another dumbed down episode of angular corrosion. The way this one is forcefully expelled from within the music making machine is charming in itself and throttles out a winning verdict. The darker edge isn't unnoticed and works well in this harem of lighter toons! 'Soon Found Out' is chanted in, has that tinny vibromatic bounce, is so squeakily innocent and straight ahead and gets on with little arsing about (quick middle muck around that's it) one cannot find any prickly fault.
It is simple what Nervous Twitch do, it is back to basics, it is quite bloody enjoyable and those 3 factors are a source many miss. Garage is, in itself, an acoustic art form with strokes and splashes done in sparse style but with just enough intention and articulation. Many more bands pour in bucket loads of colour and yet come away with something so much...less. Be inspired, appreciate the use of so little to make so much dramatic effect and...you guessed it...get a piece of NT real soon.
THE JACKHAMMERS - THE FLACCID CRIPPLE SESSIONS
When pushing bands and doing gigs what you ideally want is a good old rip-roaring noise dealt out with passion from people who are utterly friendly, are easy to get on with and who just want to go about their business and make a good old racket. Enter The Jackhammers - a totally proficient outfit who spellbind with a juddering episode of tight musicianship and rumbling spirit. I have only viewed them once and was stunned, I have also reviewed a CD and was highly taken with the consistent vibe and smash and grab style - surely this offering from this fine Glaswegian terror machine would hit the nerves of positivity.
The first pile of hefty manure to be dropped on my perverse sonic noggin is a slag garage beating known as 'Futile Future'. Mouth wateringly murky, rocking hard from the first refuse-tip rumble of the bass and thrashing hard with whiskey-scorched vocals, slap happy sticks and rotting guitar bursts. The impetus and fiery action immediately magnetise and the extra gob bursts, filled with a straining rebellion, add the kick in the gonads we knew was coming our way. A very inflammable opening racket and into the heavy twisting heat of 'Hope Ya Don't Come', another incessant slice of noise, fully fuzzed, fully fucked up and with subtle siren calls within the weave and cloaked daggers of sonic danger. No arsing about - everything is given a nice layer of grime and we remain beautifully enthused from the spiky pits of our soul. 'Everybody's Cockpuppet' rattles along with an initial sub-'So What' hint, after following on from a shattered machine gun start. Eventually noxious harmonies come, slam-dunk bursts whet the appetite for further filth, twinges of the strings full stop varied outbursts and we close we a 'fuck you' grunt of snotted disobedience.
Phew - sizzling stuff.
'Bags Of Dogshit' reeks of rusted rhythm and spills out numerous disjointed tapeworms of toneage that want to feed on your very resistance. A rapid thumping to soften the underbelly and a persistent kicking that produces many shades (primarily of greys and browns). The free flowing sludge is thick and swift and splatters the acoustic basin rather than hangs uselessly from bare trees. The band keep it tight, under frilled and rattling. 'Contaminated' next and just as we expect more of the same a sub-skank slop out comes and shows the band can wreck and ruin any sound with natural aplomb - relish it. Perhaps the least effective jaunt due to the lighter option the crew have chosen and the deliberate loose, low-slung style they adopt but still worthy of its place on this crummy CD. What helps matters is the super swift running time of this latter effort - oooh a close shave!
Still simmering folks!
From out of the swirling dust comes another hard-boiled trooper of a song called 'World War III Or Something', an offering that frenetically spasmoids in a bout of post traumatic syndrome release with the undercurrent of shoddy rock and roll and restrained brutality never far away. This one could be lost in a crater of debris if placed on a longer compilation of tracks but here it does just fine and is pursued by the magnificent tail-end triumph known as 'Ugly As Sin' (perhaps homage to all that has transpired). A real gritty grind out with a catchy vibe and chorus - a simple snip, laden with sweating sinewy sonica that this lot deliver oh so sweetly. I'll have some of that!
I have a T-shirt 'I Hate Jackhammers', I have a thought 'I Fuckin' Love The Jackhammers', you would expect me to be confused - no way - this band are right up my unwashed, derelict street and they can come play for me anytime and join in on the big puke-o-thon on all that scrubbed up, well presented shit that does it the wrong way.