MUSIC RECORD REVIEWS
Fiona Shepherd and her amazing singles column thisway . . .
Piledriving riffola. helter skelter melody. sandpaper vocals . . . a big fat raspberry to all that collegiate rock tedium, ’cos The Joyriders’ new single ‘Don’t Ask Me‘ (Incredible Shrinking Records) has none of these. Thankfully. because they indulge their Hiisker Dii tendencies plentifully elsewhere. Instead they opt for a seesaw balance of guts and tenderness over cascading guitars — and you thought that was a malady reserved for the likes of Mega City Four and the whole of Scotland’s west coast?
Davey Henderson may feel peerless and invincible in Scotland, but if you want an antecedent for The Nectarine lio 9’s sparse, delicate but off-at- thsdeep-end ‘Unloaded For You’ (Postcard). look no further than Mercury Rev's peaceful alter ego. or Henderson‘s own back catalogue stripped of its ﬂeshy production till the bones protrude.
Another elusive 80s pop person re-emerges as Rose McDowall, once of Strawberry Switchblade, plays the tremulous-lipped Nancy Sinatra to Boyd Rice‘s greasily seductive Lee Hazelwood on their collaborative project Spell, weaving their witchiness all over Hazelwood’s ‘Big Red Balloon‘ (Mute). The duo exist to faithfully reproduce forgotten 60s classics, a pursuit that seems pointless till you hear the results. Then it seems sublimer pointless.
Those titans of 70s electro-pop Sparks have their own way of combating the tidal wave of nostalgia - don‘t split up; keep making records; ﬂummox your admirers with a profoundly dippy ‘comeback’ single ‘National Crime Awareness Week’ (Finiﬂex); hire thoroughly modern boffins Finitribe to push your vessel out even further. Voila, mesmeric eccentricity.
The BMX Bandits have been occupying their own parallel universe for so long now, it‘s starting to feel comfortable and make inroads into sane society. ‘Little Hands‘ (August) might even say something to someone about their life.
With the bottom of the page advancing rapidly. let us tell you that the mighty Penn have their debut ‘Not Jelly‘ (Mean Records) out now. Buy it. Make them famous. Then
we can crow about how you read of them here
Born to Choose (liykodlsc) ‘Abortion is healthcare. llealthcare is a right,’ shouts a slogan in the booklet with this benefit compilation for American pressure groups involved in the fight for abortion rights. Worthlness has not preludlced the music, however. The dozen artistes donating their obligatory ‘prevlously unreleased tracks’ to the cause have come tluough with a bevy of shit- kicklng no-nonsense grooves. Even the effortlessly laid back Cowboy Junkies pull off a creeper with ‘Lost My Driving Wheel’ which builds to fine, smouldering magnificence. liEM's opening track, ‘Photograph’, with 10,0!!! Maniacs’ llatalle Merchant, is what will undoubtedly catch the eye of most browsing punters. They won’t be disappointed
with the short but perfectly formed slice of haunting whimsy - complemented later by lucinda Willlats’ folksy ditty, ‘Pancdre’. lot that such niceness holds sway: Sugar give their all in ‘llnnning Out Of Time’ while Soundgerden grunge out in style on ‘lllV Baby’.
The only disappointment on the album is Matthew Sweet’s crowd- pleaslng version of ‘She Said, She Said’ which has neither the plaintive quality oi The Beatles original nor the driven desperation that the words demand. But if it’s words you want then The Mekons’ title track, reworking ‘Cut That Child In llalf’, has them in bundles: ‘I will not have what I do not want, Control the body; control the mind,’ Sally Tinuns shgs. Cults. But Born To Choose could just have easily taken its title from John Tindell’s contribution: ‘llant’ll’lloll’.
in s r 5 *
It‘s not as raw, ‘out there’ and those qualities, albeit always
Full Moon, llirty llearts (Mercury) reckless as they’d like to think. For
tempered by lllXS’s widescreen drmna, look to 1992’s ‘Welcome To Wherever You Are’. There, the band’s ninth album wasn’t so much a johnny-come- lately attempt at knocking down the stadium walls, a ‘Streuth Baby’-style use of bleaker, blacker sounds and images (‘02 can re-invent yourselfl); rather, the songs were more ambitious, llutchence more mercurial,
and nobody made too much fuss about it.
‘Fuil Moon, Ilirty llearts’, on the outer
hand, is fit to burst with cries of ‘back to basics’ and ‘speed’ and ‘spontaneousness’. Methinks they doth protest too much. Too often do songs consist of nothing more than huge, clanking riffs and titanic drum pounds and a few, shouted, shredded vocals from llutchence - see ‘llays 0f iiust’, ‘The let‘ and ‘The Messenger’. Much heat, not much light. True illumination peeps through on ‘Please (You Got That . . .)’ and the title track, where contributions from Ray Charles (r’n‘b depth) and Chrissie llynde (soulful flight) deflect from the sound of a band frantically scrabbllng, trying to capture the sweat and sex of their summer tour round the world’s cosier venues. llere that sweat is stale and the sex premature. (Craig McLean)
The Story Of Jamaican Music (Mango) llard to see where compiler Steve Barrow could have gone wrong, really, with the vaults of island llecords at his disposal, and label names like Trojan, Studio line and Greensleeves spread in healthy dollops around this collection.
The four Ciis in this box are divided chronologically (1958-67, 1%8—74, 1975-81 and 1982-9), and one of the Joys of this project is that there are no weak eras. From the imitation lid! of the late 50s, ‘The Story Of Jamaican Muslc’ breezes through ska, rock steady, reggae and dancehall to ragamuffln. Cue up any of the discs and you won’t have to wait longer than a couple of tracks to find something that really makes you want to pump up the wine.
Detractors of ‘base’ ragga might be forced to reassess their views when they reach the final disc. In this context, it just comes across as a rather fruitler strand of an unbroken stream of music that changed the world. Even if Bob Marley only gets one track, not counting a Wailers cut, and displays of the art of the dubmaster - one of the most crucial and Influential aspects of Jamaican music - are conspicuously absent.
34 The List 5—l8 November 1993