MUSIC RECORD REVIEWS
Alastair Mabbot takes a deep breath and dives into the clear blue water at the singles. Will he tind pearls?
Back in April. you may recall, Alex Chilton played the l3th Note with guests Alan Hutchison from Superstar and BMX Bandit Francis
, MacDonald (and Teenage Fanclub). The vinyl upshot is a 7in-only single. ‘Margie‘/‘Hide And Seek‘ (Shoeshine). recorded straight from the mixing desk and showing Chilton well in command of back-to-basics R&B. More of a souvenir than a chart contender. but there‘s nowt wrong with that.
The BMX Bandits themselves weigh in with a Mott The Hoople-esque self-mythologising saga on ‘We're Gonna Shake You Down’ (Creation). And who can blame them? After all this time. they're entitled to blow their own trumpets a bit. ‘We are so alive/We 're in overdrive' might be overstating the case, but this will still merit a place on their Greatest Hits.
Continuing his inevitable rise to stardom. Stephen Jones sticks a honeyed tongue in the car on Mybltll's 'You‘re Gorgeous' (Echo). it's his most endearing song yet. Radios will wriggle with pleasure at the joy of playing it, and Jarvis Cocker will look to his laurels. The singer from Acacia has a voice that goes down a treat too. Sad, then, that ‘Sway‘ (Radarscope) is a percussion track in search of a song. Or, alternatively. a Yargo B- side.
Beuutitul People have followed up their ol't- sublime album of sampledelic Hendrix by becoming - oh. God — a real band, with a hirsute ditty that even Bad Company would have laughed out of the studio. Regrettably, no one's told The Power Station that their time is up too. Even in an age that brought us Loaded and Men Behaving Badly. there’s a nasty smell hanging around Robert Palmer's take on gender politics. reprised on ‘She Can Rock lt' (Chrysalis). For the antidote. turn to Sill BOB Slid’s ‘Funny Body' (Ultimate), an attack on body fascism that’s a sterling example of how to leap streets ahead of your indie-guitar peers without turning into Trans Global Underground. Voices and violins interweave in a way that's totally beguiling.
Skylarking Volume 1(Melankolic) For the tirst release on Massive Attack’s new Virgin-backed label Melankolic, the Bristol trip-hoppers pay ’nutt respect to old skool Jamaican singer ilorace Andy, whose song ‘Spying Glass’ was reworked tor Protection. During the 60s and early 70s, Andy recorded at the legendary Studio 1 in Jamaica where a slowed down ska beat rocked the toundations and dubmeister lee ‘Scratch’ Perry cut his teeth.
By the late 70s, Andy had moved to New York where he recorded with all sorts ot reggae producers and artists including Tappie Zukie and sessions
with the most tamous rhythm section
in the business, Sly & Bobbie. liow dividing his time between Jamaica and Ladbroke Grove, he is a regular member at the Massive posse with his distinctive vocal style appearing on both their albums.
This ‘Best ot’ collection contains gems trom his early career including ‘Fever’ and ‘Money, Money’ to the Zukie collaboration ‘llatty Bread A Web She Want’ which all show ott Andy’s sweet, high-pitched style to good etiect. Although many ot the songs teature the kind at dubby ettects iamiliar to tans ot Massive Attack, the emphasis is tinnly on the tunes. Skylarking represents a brilliant opportunity to revisit the sound which has proved such a big inﬂuence on the British reggae/hip hop crossover. Melankolic has paid Andy back with interest by releasing this album. (Eddie Gibb)
Baader Melnlrol (ilut)
So lust how ditterent is the radical new sound that luke llalnes buried The Auteurs tor? lot much, as it happens. his voice and songwriting style are disguised not a lot, the overdriven guitar lines lust a little more twisted than on his previous record. There are a few innovations in the instrumental line-up, though, lialnes unveiling primitive synth sounds, table and some groovy Stevie Wonder clavlnet, and giving the strings a more Eastern dissonance. And It’s trout the music itselt that the most tense and sinister moments
Thematlcally, Baador Melnlrof is like a continuation ot the class war at llow I’m A Cowboy, only this time the rich kids have guns and babble distractedly to themselves like shell- shocked speed ireaks. As a concept album on terrorism, it delivers a lot less than titles like ‘Mogadishu’ and ‘Meet Me At The Airport’ promise. There's a palpable teeling ot absence, and not lost at llalnes’s bassist girltriend, Alice Beadman, either. At only halt-an-hour long, it resembles a clutch ot songs recorded in the hope that a keystone track would appear tor it all to coalesce around.
Maybe he just got led up with the name. (Alastair Mabbott)
WEI— KULA SHAKER
You need to take a large pinch ot salt. And maybe another one tor luck. Then you might be able to enjoy this tine, otten mesmeric rock album without worry or distraction. Because lead top Crispian Mills and his Vedlc triends certainly do everything they can to coat their rippling retro-rocklsms in all manner at mystic chants, dodgy pseudo-ragga workouts, and ullulating calls to the wellsprlng oi divine consciousness. There’s even a sitar solo. llowever, this isn’t as musically palniul as it sounds. Because llula Shaker make sure that tor every heartfelt plea to the Eternal, a
coruscating rock monster brings the heady atmosphere crunching down to earth. Thus, the grinding raunch oi Knight (in The Town rocks itselt senseless betore the exotic might at the transcendental Bovlnda. it’s a pattern repeated throughout, stripping trom trad to mad in the blink ot an
Just as it is odd that this band have sprung to prominence so quickly, it’s remarkable how well such eccentric sentiments are integrated into Kula Shaker’s classic rock sound-world. Either they are convincing charlatans or they have convinced themselves ot the validity at their mystic muse. Whatever, as long as you don’t take it all too seriously, this album is a tine one. (Phil Miller)
From A To B (Food)
Debut albums - coherent statements at intent or patchy summation ot a band’s songs composed to date with sporadic ﬂashes ot brilliance?
It’s clear that Octopus, a band who are not wanting in ambition or- ltnaginatlon, would hope tor the tumor, but even they might argue that they’ve only achieved the latter.
FromA ToBmanagesto geta bit turther than its title suggests. Singer Marc Shearer has described it as ‘a huge sandwich at sound’. it’s a triple decker ln tact. On one layer we have ultraocontldent pop such as previous
single ‘Your Smile’, the wah-wah
wigout ot ‘Everyday Kiss’ and the euphoric ‘Wait And See’. ilext there’s a psychedelic wash ot trippy ballads (current single ‘Saved’, the title track, ‘Klng For A Bay’) and tlnally, most tastin, there’s the hectic headrushing excitement ot debut single ‘Magazlne’ and ‘Theme From Joypop’. Plus, there’s a couple ot untitled instrumentals tor those who like some tangy relish.
So there’s enough potential to get your teeth into, it's just that the combined tlavour is a little bland, thanks to overcooklng in the production department which has sanded oil the quirky charming edges that make Octopus live shows a more stimulating prospect than this album. (Fiona Shepherd)