MUSIC RECORD REVIEWS
Fiona Shepherd gets her mitts on the new single releases . . .
Finally. evidence that Levitation didn‘t die in vain comes with 'Saved' (Food). the latest from Octopus. providing a balmy session in a psychedelic ﬂoatation tank but without the sensory deprivation element. On their debut ‘Peace OfMind' (Creation), The Diggers match Octopus for levity and melody. both bands aiming for the Best Beatlesque Timeless Tunes award without resorting to wholesale robbery. Coast are in the running too but with ‘Headlines In The Sun‘ (Sugar). they're still not quite there. coming up with yet another single which will sound good on the Evening Session. make you confuse them with The Bluetones and cease to trouble you after a few weeks.
Bah. humbug to all that. say Telstar Ponies who still sound far too eager to deliberately distance themselves from the pack. Their latest opus (‘song' is probably too trad for them) ‘Brewery Of Eggshells‘ (Fire) could have been a contender in the Kristin Hersh/Dead Can Dance/other spooky 4AD acts vein were it not for the appalling. pretentious lyrics. At least Dead Can Dance sing foreign. like.
Head Pony David Keenan’s former muckers 18 Wheeler continue their climb to credibility with ‘Crabs‘ (Creation). a very 90s pop ditty with studio trimmings from the label that brought you The Boo Radleys rebirth. while labelmate Norman Blake has teamed up with Francis Macdonald under the moniker Frank Blake (natch) to produce ‘Plastic Bag'/‘Don’t Let Love Pass You By‘ (Shoeshine) featuring their trademark mid-paced melodic shufﬂing. And a squelchy Moog solo.
Youthful East Kilbride quartet God’s Boyfriend go Belly up for their debut 'WPC'I‘Witch‘ on new Glasgow label Flux. while ‘experienced' Edinburgh quintet lucid do a similar fluent college pop thang on ‘lt Never Stops' (Gravity), and 60s garage devotees The Wlldebeests record a load of other people‘s songs on the ‘Just Like Me‘ EP in pointlesst great pastiche fashion. Smurftastic!
UST DO IT!
See page 76
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Coming Up (llude)
As we all know, Suede’s second lP Dog Man Star was a stratospheric experience, consummate pomp and a great deal of circumstance, but its recording was turbulent, costing the band the services of Bernard Butler, a man for whom playing mercurial guitar is as natural as breathing.
Coming Up is less impressive than its predecessor. less impressive in the sense that it’s not playing to the gallery. You get the feeling that Suede are playing things just for themselves this time round - and if anyone else likes it, that’s an inevitability.
The touted return to all things glam and stomping can be heard on ‘Filmstar’, ‘She' and ‘Starcrazy’ as well as the absurdly confident single ‘Trash’. All are the sound of a band having fun, which admittedly they still captured on Butler’s ‘llew Generation’ - the difference being that these are the tracks which largely form the character of this album. Coming Up is celebratory where Dog Man Star was magnificently broody.
llowever, there’s still room for affecting but free-and-easy sounding ballads like ‘Saturday flight’ and at least one lavish orchestral swoon in ‘The Chemistry Between lls’. A new chemistry has been tested out and found compatible. The young dudes are still powered by electricity. (Fiona Shepherd)
New Adventures In III F] (WEA) like liam Gallagher’s tickly cough, ITEM is a subject on which most people have an opinion. You’ve probably decided whether you’ll be buying this album, but in case you’re swlthering, rest assured it’s a corker. But although it boasts a song called ‘Departure’, New Adventures marks less of a change of direction than its predecessor Monster- there isn’t a single song here that would seem out of place on one of the earlier albums. like 1988’s Green, it embraces a wide range of moods and instruments
: (including, if the song title is to be I believed, a zither); but what it really amounts to is ITEM doing superbly
é what we already knew they did
‘ superbly. They perfect pretty pop on ? ‘llow The West Was Won And Where It ; Got lls’ and ‘Electrolite’, wax ) melancholic on ‘Be Mine’, rock out on ; . . ‘Ilndertow’, hark back to 70s punk on ‘The Wake Up Bomb’, and keep the e ~- titles quirky - anyone for ‘Binky The
Mostly recorded during the mammoth I A Monster tour, New Adventures finds REM still at their peak after almost a i decade of world domination - there I may be no big surprises, but this is , still top-notch stuff. File under More . Of The Same. (Andrew Burnet) i
llo Code (Epic) Pearl Jam are a supremely American rock band. They churn out their albums regularly, neither toying with convention, nor much altering their tried and tested musical formula. llor should they, for their peculiarly earnest angst-rock has been selling bucket loads for some time now. What Pearl Jam cannot shake off however, is the suspicion (largely, it has to be said, on this side of the Atlantic) that they’re not what they seem. That they’re a corporate band, taking their alternative stance, that they don’t really ‘mean it.’
Thus, their last album, Vitalogy, was
a scrappy attempt at authenticity, an extended jam seemingly recorded in a concrete bunker. llo Code is far, far better. In fact it may be their strongest yet, a distillation of their ability to come up with both squalling Young- esgue rockers (here, the marvellous ‘Smile’), and genuinely gentle acoustic balladry. The majority of the songs here are so well focused and subtle, Vedder’s voice at times coming from a whispered lullaby, at others howling madly like the last man on earth, that the occasional rough edges are easily overlooked. llere, Pearl Jam are pared down, cliche-free and relaxed, indeed, they sound
effortless. 0n llo Code, it seems, Pearl Jam have at last cut loose from both
tradition and expectation. (Phil Miller)
PET SHOP BOYS
Bilingual (Cage Music/EM!)
Any day now a dayglo-coloured piece of plastic containing the new Pet Shop Boys album will arrive at your local record shop. It’s been three years
album of original material, disguised as a kitsch drinks coaster, and this time appetites have been whetted with ‘Before’, a double on single release of blistering dance remixes from the likes of revered Ill/producer Danny Tenaglia.
As will have been hoped by those who’ve been bopping round their living-rooms to this lethal blend of
classic driving electro-beats-rich Pets and dancefloor house, Tenaglia’s ‘Before’ makes an appearance on i Bilingual. The rest of the album however, is on a different tip altogether. Where ‘Before’ is out giving it a sweaty four on the floor, tracks like ‘Electricity’ are there at l the end of the night when all is said since the release of Very, the Pets last I and done and winding down. : llaving said that, Bilingualfinds the ; duo in a new-found love affair with ' vital, dancey latin boats. The result is more Pets on a sleepy siesta than hot Med nights, but lazy and low.key or i not Bilingual is proof (it proof were i needed) that the Pet’s first-time-round l . hi-llliliosourced dance music is ’ capable of matching and outlasting the hippest 90s house. (Ellie Barr)
36 The List 6- l9 Sept I996