MUSIC RECORD REVIEWS
Brian Donaldson girds his loins and wades through the horror and the harmony of the singles.
Throughout the nation. scores ol‘ soiled youths will exit record shops. heads bowed. clutching the first release from Take That since 'l‘l lli aunouncement. liel'ore launching new careers in a Sains‘burys near yotl. the lads have opted to bow otil with a cover ol"l'he Bee Gees l‘)7(i classic, 'llow Deep Is Your Love. (HMO). And. against all the odds. it‘s not a bad slab with Gary Barlow wisely steering away l'rom any l‘alsetlo shenanigans. l‘nl'orlunately. splitting up is not a course being followed by The Almighty. ‘.-\ll Sussed ()llt' ((‘hrysalisl. and what a brilliant name for a song that is. stands as a totem ol‘ resistance against the barriers of authority. ie when teacher turns away put your thumb on the tip ol’ your nose and waggle the rest of your hand. Imagine. if you can bear it. a milled Joli Hon .lovi backed by Phil Collins horn section and you have a semblance ol' what this sounds like.
Those wishing to plug their lugs illlo a record stamped with a degree ol quality should turn to the simple yet effective ';\nchor Me' (Virgin) from New '/.ealand's Mutton Birds. .-\wash with littlly guitar alld blessed with Don McUlashau’s understated vocals. the song juts in and out of its hook-laden chorus lo a truly demure denouelnent.
Somewhat closer to home are the brother arid sister team entitled Seaside (()lle Records). Their debut version ol’ Joy Division's ‘Shadowplay' is as plaintive and haunting as a Curtis cover should be. Haunting. however. is the last adjective which could be slapped onto The Shave and their debut ‘Commercial Queen‘ (l’et Sounds). Soon to be seen live with the Bluetones. a nip here and a luck there will be needed to prevent the four-piece from languishing in the Brilpop League relegation zone.
A double A-side from the Creeping Bent label will have you holding onto your bowlers. Spacehopper’s ‘Mal‘s Bonding and ‘\’enus Bonding from The Secret Goldfish are l'rantic and largely tuneless. Yet oddly compelling.
l l l l
Expecting To Fly (Superior Ouality)
A Squeeze for the 903, anyone? On the back of a number two entry in the fantastic forty with the duffle-coat shuffle of ‘Slight Return’ comes The Bluetones’ debut album Expecting To Fly. And flying is what the llounslow boys are doing with a collection which is certain to find a lofty spot in many a critics’ Best Of for 96.
Having established a strong reputation through relentless slogging on the touring circuit, the ’tones die-
} hards will not be disappointed. The
expect an instant pop fix. The sublime melodies of ‘Putting Out Fires’ and ‘cut Some Rug’ seep into the groove consciousness rather than leaving you punch-drunk.
Led by the charisma-blessed Mark Morriss, confidence simply oozes through the ranks, allowing them to switch effortlesst from country-pop (‘A Parting Gesture’) into the lustin supersonic ‘Bluetonic’. They even have the gall to omit their first hit, the classic ‘Are You Blue Or Are You Blind?’ Yet, to complain would be churlish in light of the excellence exhibited throughout.
The Bluetones have previously stated in interview that their shelf-life may 3 not be a lengthy one. Savour them casual listener, meanwhile, should not l while they last. (Brian Donaldson)
Secondtoughestintheinfants (Junior Boys Own)
Ah, that difficult second album. Two years on from their ground breaking debut LP Dubnobasswithmyheadman and Underworld have a hell of a lot to live up to. That record split the concept of dance music wide open. It had it all; techno, dub, electronica, rock ’n’ roll guitars and wild, cut-up lyrics. It made dance music accessible. They became the dance band that it was OK for people to like. We’re talking serious crossover.
A difficult act to follow maybe but,
unbelievably, they’ve pulled it off. With style. Once again, they’ve pushed modern music to its limits, this time taking on elements of jungle. Out go the more mundane elements of four- to-the-floor techno and in come the breakbeats. They hold on to the slower, bluesy tracks (‘Stagger’) which so distinguished the last LP but by far the most interesting and exciting moments are ‘Barnstyle’ and ‘Peral’s Girl’ where the drum and the bass collide with the trademark lyrical ramblings in a new techno-jungle fusion. There’s no doubt someone was going to use drum and bass sooner or later but no one said it was going to be this good. There’s something for everyone here and music for every moment. (Jim Byers)
BABYLON ZOO The Boy With The May Eyes (EMI)
I hate to poop Babylon Zoo’s chart topping party but it’s a shirty job and
‘ someone’s gotta do it. Granted, the bit of ‘Spaceman’ you hear in the Levi’s
ad is fabulous. Like Pinky and Perky after a crate of Hooch. Thereafter, though, you get fobbed off with a dodgy episode of Blake’s 7, a bunch of stodgy goth tunes and enough Bowie- isms to send David laughing like a gnome to his solicitor’s. All this . courtesy of a man with an ego the size of Jupiter.
Not that Babylon Zoo keeper Jas
Mann would be the first to try to kick start a career on the backside of a f ieans’ commercial. Remember
Stiltskin? Exactly. One suspects that ‘ 5 the kids’ attention span for this is going to clock in at, oh, anywhere
; between fourteen and sixteen
minutes. Mind the credibility gap
The Boy With The X-Ray Eyes is a wholly uninspired record reminiscent of early 80$ Bauhaus doing their Bowie/Bolan thing. Then Bauhaus at least possessed a modicum of cool (Pete Murphy’s cheek bones were so damned high he needed a stepladder to shave). And to think Jas didn’t even wear a silver space suit for Top Of The Pops. No class. (Rodger Evans)
The lost Episodes (Rykodisc)
One can quite understand the mounting exasperation caused in recent years by Zappa’s relentless pillaging of his archives for product. At long last, though, the seemingly inexhaustible supply of unused material appears to be running dry - which isn’t to say that many tracks on The Lost Episodes need to fight too hard to justify their inclusion. From 1958, for instance, there’s what is probably the earliest recorded example of Captain Beefheart singing (in the style of a big blues mama, no less), and among the predictably
twisted R&B and doo-wop of the early GOs lerks a hitherto unsuspected cheesy listening version of a tune that would eventually bacome a Mothers staple. Excerpts from the soundtrack to the ‘super cheap cowboy movie’ Hun Home Slow nestle alongside a cough drops ad and the inevitable clandestiner-recorded tapes (in this case, a cop complaining about the noise — a rather uncontroversial choice considering what must have been available).
It’s a veritable cabinet of curiosities, and even if many pass muster by virtue of their historical interest, only the odd individual track falls into the barrel-scraping category. Unless there’s any more worthy stuff in the vault, this one just about stuffs up the cracks. (Alastair Mabbott)
45 The List 23 Feb-7 Mar 1996