mus“: RECORD REVIEWS
[MEE- ' Phyllis Minshell picks at the singles, kinda as though they were crusted frog spawn dried into an old baby’s spoon.
It is one of the greatest records I have ever had the privilege of hearing. The Flaming Stars‘ ‘Ten Feet Tall‘ (Vinyl Japan) comes in on a timeless bang-bang-bang soul drumshot. over which Max Décharne's stately organ cirlces. moving straight toward the heart of a long promised Modern World. Somewhere below. a familiar twang guitar bend I hums heroically along. But it‘s that organ. it just goes. and goes. completely chilling and beautifully warm. lfyou don't have a turntable. buy one if only for this single piece of vinyl.
Back in Scotch Corner. there's more organ (though less majesty) with Edinburgh‘s Huckleberry who obviously used to read 2000 AI) — their debut single is called ‘Halo Jones‘ (Copper). Here. the keyboards whirl circus-style under a chug and jangle guitar melange with the customary sneery vocals. Whacannltellya'.’
Glasgow’s Trout proffer the ‘Three \ ise Men ep' (Bosque) w ich has a couple of plastic pretensions in the general direction of the scum/ autism school. but ends up sounding strangely like Hugh Reed And The Velvet Underpants. Weird. Freaky. Wild.
Chicane start off promisineg on ‘Drive' (Human Condition) with a wee sample. but then it all goes really horrible and pointless.
Thankfully. then. there‘s Astra Chimp (in reality Gerry and Raymond Fanclub. Eugene Eugenius and Francis Bandit). lt‘s straight to the point. no messing. celebration. ‘Draggin‘ (Shoeshine) is an old Roger McGuinn track given some Telstar space- whoosh treatments and a nice line in Beach Boys harmony courtesy of G. and F. It also features the words 'across the US-A‘ in it almost never a bad thing. The ﬂipside sees Brian Wilson's ‘She‘s My Summer Girl’ dusted off by E. while R. lays down a wonderfully parodic ‘Roll With lt‘ opening. All very lovely.
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SHAG FRENZY a
To be honest, r?‘ hasn’t done a lotto elicit sympathy from the great unwashed. llaubing your cheek with the word ‘slave’ when you’re signed to one of the world’s biggest record companies inevitably leads to grumbles of ‘lloesn’t know he’s bloody born’, etc. But that’s all behind him now, and to show his relief at being released from what he would have us believe was an onerous contract, he’s made his first album for EMI a triple Cl), and you’d be astonished to find out just how much of this deluge is
actually worth it.
I’d be lying it I said it was packed with material the standard of ‘ltiss’ and ‘Sign O The Times’, but there’s a playful, exploratory spirit in every groove. 4* dabbles in just about every style he’s ever essayed, which sometimes means that it’s hard to stifle a yawn as he covers old ground. On the plus side, his sense of humour shines wickedly through. And, by God, there’s sex. Acres of it. So much so that listening to this odyssey in its entirety is like being immersed in a warm bath of his body fluids, while undoubtedly remaining a more fragrant experience. (Alastair Mabbott)
We Are Puppets (Trade 2)
Tiger maintain they titled their debut album thus, because they like puppets. Puppets are part of their thang. With that rationale, it’s amazing we don’t see more album titles like Sticky Toffee Pudding or Porsche 0r Ferrari, I ’m Not Really Fussed.
Tiger are so uncalculated, it looks almost forced. The off-key vocal interplay, the parping Moogs, the bizarre lyrical flights of fancy, the motley look of the band - did someone just manufacture the consummate anti-style band? And be shrewd enough to ensure they were let llalf Bad Actually?
Radio hit ‘llace’ has proved to be one of the year’s brightest singles - a caterwauling stand-out gem rarely matched elsewhere on the album, which was recorded early to capture the spontaneity of Tiger’s chaotic pop. Sounds like a refreshing idea, but much of the material fails to get off the starting blocks, with the exception of punk-on-synthesizers potential single ‘On The Rose’. Ain’t that always the way?
In terms of vocals, no one’s saying you have to be Pavarotti before you can perform, but you tend to recognise llan laidler’s strained hollering for what it is when the song drags. Co- vocalist .lulie Sims, on the other hand, has only charmingly scruffy contributions to make. The potential is . there, for a musical partnership to be reckoned with. (Fiona Shepherd)
Unchained (American) Even by his own admission, Johnny Cash had been coasting for a while prior to his first release for the American llecordings label in 1994. That solo acoustic set, simply entitled American Recordings, marked a significant return to form, and it is continued here. This time, though, he has a band, and a pretty useful one, too, since it’s basically Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, plus the guitar expertise of Marty Stuart.
The album covers a lot of ground, sometimes a little incongruously, from remoulds of his early Sun material to
country and western hits from Don Gibson and Hank Snow, Petty’s ‘Southern Accents’ to Beck’s ‘llowboat’ and a dense, apocalyptic version of Soundgarden’s ‘liusty Cage’. The defiant ‘l’ve llever Picked Cotton’, a hit for Boy Clark in 1970, was originally written with him in mind, and as with all the cover versions, he makes it his own.
llaturally, being Cash, there are a couple of maudlin ballads as well, and the inevitable spirituals. ‘Meet Me In lleaven’ is his own song, but the real powerhouse in this department is Josh lladen’s simple ‘Spiritual’, which the singer builds into a huge arc of gradually mounting intensity. Back on the rails again? You better believe it. (Kenny Mathieson)
Green Man (RCA)
So what’s a teen idol to do when his band hits the skids? ln Mark Owen’s case, it’s to rope in heavyweight producers like John Leckle and Craig Leon and concoct diluted versions of what’s hip this week, throwing in a few soppy numbers to reassure his existing audience. The title track and ‘Back Pocket And Me’ plunder hlppiedom more opportunistically than ltula Shaker (if you can lmaglne that), and ‘Are You With Me’ shows Mark Owen reinventing himself as the skunk-smoking nature boy. To cover all the bases, there’s the sad
inevitability’of Beatles retreads and a very Wellerish song, ‘Move On’, with its entirely appropriate line ‘llon’t be afraid to wipe clean your blackened slate.’
A better clue to Owen’s long-term direction can be found in ‘Clementine’ and ‘Ask lllm To’, to which he brings a vaguely James Taylor-ish flavour, but they’re so fey as to make Taylor sound like Ted llugent in comparison.
For all this, Green Man is undemandlng, often pleasant background muslc, but its release in grlm old llovember rather than the pre- festival summer underlines an impression of boats missed and bandwagons jumped. (Alastair Mabbott) I
'40 The List 29 Nov-12 Dec I996