~ Thlsissue.FionaShepherd L reviewsthe singles.

I The lnspiral Carpets:

Bitches Brew (Mute) The evidence is incontrovertible. ‘Please Be Cruel‘ mooted it; now ‘Bitches Brew' confirms it

; —The lnspirals are at their best when they swagger.

A beefy. remorseless

1 rendition of ‘Tainted Lovc'further exposes

Tom Hingley as the Long John Baldryofhis generation. lfthey can just escape the holiday camp circuit their future as ostentatious balladeers

; could be made. I Doctor Phibes and the 1 House ol Wax Equations:

Misdiagnosedlve (50 Seel Street) Temporarily roused from their hazy

lazy reverie. Doctor Phibescome over

- surprisingly accessible

with this impassioned slab of psychedelic funk which slides into unhinged improvisational frenzy just when you're starting to get your head round the thrust of their muse. The wayward cover of ‘Psycho Killer‘ on the flip puts paid to any notions oflucidity though.

I Balloon: Tightrope Walker (Dedicated) There‘s a precarious skill at work here. Balloon are tightrope-walking the line between clever and clever-clever. juggling wordy lyrics with a delicate semi-acoustic arrangement. and swinging their flying trapeze between the poles of arty self-consciousness and disarming simplicity. There's a place for them in the rock'n‘roll circus.

I Shonen Knile: Ridin‘ Do The Rocket (August) Bjorn

Again have made it into a ; blatant cabaret art form. but Shonen Knife are wise

to the subtleties and scope of pastiche. Why be confined to ripping off The Ramones when you can squeeze in some I .ink Wray twanging. steal the melody from ‘Night Of

llliXlI)ances'andinfuse the whole batch of bubblegum with some

hippy dilly l-‘rank And

Walters naive Vision of

planetary existence?

l IThe Revs: ElevatorEP

(Vinyl Japan)/Marshal

Curtis: Facts Di Love (MCZ) Two unashamed pop

practitioners. The Revs

lose out because. in their

haste totranslatcthe exuberance ofThe Wonder Stufffl'he

Senseless Things (feel free to augment the list at your own leisure) on to tape. they‘se neglected the embellishing force of a bone-rattling riffto lend substance. and are left with an lil’ ofaimless fluff. Marshal ('urtis

restrain the bounce and

enhance their melodies with some winning brass arrangements.


Erotica (Maverick) And on and on and on it goes. Just as Prince Rogers Nelson rubs himsell up with the 75-minute penis extension that is ‘Doodle', so Madonna Louise Ciccone takes almost exactly the same length at time to prove what a pussy-power power-player she is. ’Erotica' details the neurotica that is Madonna. In the shocking blue corner, there is her book, titled, oh-so-obliquely, ‘Sex’. In the stolid grey corner is the record of the book. Perversely, it is tame and asexual. Aside from the title track's Iibidinous groove (and even that simply otters the missionary position against ‘Justily My Love' kinky 8&M contortions) and the

celebrated ode to cunnilingus that is

‘Where Lite Begins’, ‘Erotica’ is mechanical and passionless. Computer lust, at a push.

Even when a track begins with rude hip-hop motions- ‘Waiting’ -the body at the song is sleek and too, too curvy. Even when the lyrics on ‘Thlet 0t Hearts’ promise some venom, they're delivered prissily and angelically over a tinny SAW-esque drum track. Even when Madonna’s knack lor supremely catchy excellence is considered, ‘Erotica’ tails to deliver- ‘Words’ and ‘Bye Bye Baby’ are just iorgettable. In this new, no-holds-barred (apparently) phase at world domination, it would seem that even the deliciously sexy thrill oi pure pop music does not iigure largely.

Clearly, reports of ‘Erotlca”s erotica have been prematurely ejaculated. (Craig McLean)

; PRINCE 4 Symbol (Paisley Park)

His name is Prince. And he is lunky. And he is cocooned in his own little

. world, shrouded in his cultivated

mystique. With this all-excluding

' torce-lleld so resolutely in place, Prince repels all butletlng elements: the winds at musical lashion, the heat ol media pressure, the glare ol peer pressure. And the coldness that is objective opinion and input.

Prince is an egotistical blow-hard. As much has been the ever-constant, usually-bright lount at his talent. With ‘Symbol’ —or, betterstlll, ‘Doodle’ though, he’s gone too tar; backwards up his alimentary canal without a paddle. Ora memorable tune. Or a coherent vision at where his latest

j musical ramp is headed. ‘Doodle’ is

l vast and sprawling, leaturing lrantic

; lunk, gummy reggae, salaclous

j smoocherama, and heaps ol tawdry


l The singles have been peely-wally

I tunky jerks (played by the same?). The other sixteen tracks are heavily

E peppered with tirst-person-slngular

1 sex notes, one-dimensional ioreplay

i and coitus nonstopus delivered over

; shambolic keyboard orgies and vocal histrionics. Nowhere is the keen edge

l and REAL raunch that lent ‘Diamonds

I And Pearls’, a similarly H.U.G.E.

; album, such enlivening locus.

3 Do these opinions matter? Not really.

: Alter all, on the seventh day, God made

j Prince. Coming lrom anyone else, that

I could be construed as a joke. But not

trom Prince.

My name is just Punter. And I am

; bored. (Craig McLean)


Main Ditender(Virgin)

Think Stones: llaccid, ilabby, sad.

Right? Now think Keet: ditterent story, isn’t it? Implicit in every suggestion thatThe Rolling Stones should retire is the proviso that their gumptious guitarist can't be written oil until he’s dead.

Okay, the lirst song on this, his second solo album, sounds like an angry ‘Money For Nothing’, but unlike so many others Richards really can walk it like he talks it. The R&B roots of ‘Body Talk’ are well understood, and the Motownish ‘Hate It When You Leave‘ lits his band like a pair at worn slippers. It’s in that context, though, that Himseli’s vocal limitations are most apparent.

The low point comes with ‘Words Dl Wonder’, a characterless reggae interlude which is the one that’s most likely to get you skipping on to another at those unhurried, deftly-done grooves— all at those Richards trademarks that make you go ‘Yeah'.

All the same, the songs on ‘Main

Dtlender’ never quite match the richness at his previous creative peaks.

The impression is that Richards is heading for a Ry Cooderish middle age,

and iithatdoesn’tsound appealing, I

just think: would you rather have a new

Mick Jagger album? (Alastair Mabbott)E

L 30 The List 6— 19 November 1992