“MIC RECORD REVIEWS
Brian Donaldson applies his vast musical knowledge and sparkling prose to this issue’s singles. Dr sornethlng.
According to their August press release. local rascals Chickweed ‘smoke cigarettes with as much boredom as Bette Davis or Keef.‘ Quite what that is supposed to mean is beyond me but ‘Perfect Day’ (Human Condition) is a curt slab of guitar-pop and female vocals of the very charming variety. indeed.
London‘s Velvet Jones have almost copyrighted ‘charming’ with ‘Twisted‘ (Naked Records). Dark. sombre and other words which can invoke a sense of sombre darkness are all you need to describe this wee gem.
There are some ungracious people who will have you believe that Edward Ball is still in the record business due to his buddydom with Alan McGee. And. yes. he may look like Will Self‘s less pleasing on the eye cousin but. heck. I like the guy. His ‘Love is Blue' (Creation) single will threaten no one's sanity nor the upper tiers of the fab forty but it‘s as smooth as the smoothest thing you can think of. Times ten. Though. if as reported. this is a homage to Chelsea PC. I take it all back.
More Creation knockabout fun comes from The Diggers with ‘OK Alright‘. Which is only that. Their semi- legendary hell-raising is little in evidence here. Even your mum would blush at the inoffensiveness contained in this I87 seconds of jinglepop.
I've never been quite able to forgive Beggars Banquet for inflicting Gary Numan on us. The Beekeepers’ 'Do You Behave Like That At Home' makes few strides towards atonement. Do they write turgid rock turds like this at home? Wes Craven is a big fan of Republics having picked them to write the theme song to his latest gorefest. He‘s welcome to them. ‘Ready To Go‘ (Deconstruction) goes nowhere. frankly. Big in America. unsurprisingly.
People’s champion Mark Radcliffe voted White Town’s ‘Your Woman' (Cargo Records) his single of 1996. handily overlooking the fact that its release date falls into 97. it has the stark. stripped-down feel of a genuine one-off with the sleepy vocals of Space or Sparks at their most languid. Asides from that. it’s an instant classic.
DAFT PUNK Homework (Virgin)
What an astonishing album. llo, in fact hold on, what a shit-kicking, terrifying, monster, funkin’ beast of an album. it’s too early for album of the year but this is gonna take some beating. Funk is the key. If you’ve got the funk, you’ll get it instantly, if you don’t, you’ll catch on soon enough. These two French geezers (ages 22 and 23) must be laughing their heads off. like Underworld or the Chemical Brothers, they’re redefining the parameters oi dance music, unravelling its pretentiousness and revealing its potential heart-stopping
What does it sound like? Funky for a start, arrogant, very fresh, but raw, punky, loose and lo-fi at the same time. It humps, thumps and pumps with its mix of dirty, distorted, hip/house/disco/techno euphoria.
The classic ‘Da Funk’ prowls into life with its slo-mo Chemicals beat, monster bass hook and searing acid frequencies. ‘Rollin’ And Scratchin’ reveals a harder edge with mucho screeching noises, while ‘Teachers’ namechecks a who’s who of Daft Punk heroes over an irresistible funky disco beat. It’s a ruff, tuft, rampant restoration of faith in dance music. A truly original album. It’s a stunning debut. Funkin’ brilliant actually. low heat that. (Jim Byers)
While an Blonde (Mercury)
Did fonnuia out of puff? Reinvent yourself, why doncha. Bowie, after all, transmogrifies every time he goes for a Jimmy Riddle. And so with their fourth lP, not content with the ‘big in Europe’ tag and adoration of a celebrity square like Chris Evans, Sharleen and pals have bade familiarity farewell, willing themselves into some cool, club- compatible, style-friendly, TFI Friday houseband. Sort of.
True, the [P boots off like Tricky deconstructing the Darnhusfers theme, but there on in llew Texas is not a squillion miles removed from Did
Texas, albeit with some iiggery pokery in the production department. ‘Say What You Want’, the Top Ten comeback single, hints at something new but it’s hardly ambient house. And ‘Drawing Crazy Patterns’, a sumptuous piece of country pop (strings attached by Mike Hedges - the producer who gave The Manics zing) is Texas through and through.
On a genuinely different tack, ‘Polomint City’ is a playful demolition of ‘Je T’Aime’ that has Sharleen doing Dusty Springfield doing Eartha liitt. Elsewhere, for all its diversity - everything from Motown soul through Pretenders-esque ADR to clockwork hip hop beats, White 0n Blonde is another Texas record, and not a bad
one at that. flew shmoo. (Rodger
Sound: Of The Asian Underground
Just as Jyoti Miserly’s ‘Abort, Retry, Fail’ crashes straight in at the top of the singles chart, here comes a compilation of new takes on Asian roots. Forget the dismal cheerfulness of Bhangra, these are fresh cuts from producers and musicians at the edge of a strong scene focused on london’s Blue llote club. Meaning ‘different, unique’, Anokha fills up the club on Monday nights with tabla breakbeats in drum ’n’ bass grooves, traditional folk tricked-out in trip hop and African dimensions audible in the cool, hot
sounds going back to the Indian subcontinent. IIME nominated it as one of the pioneering musical experiences of 96.
Biork, Tricky, scribes from The Face and HI, they’re all hanging out to club guru and tabla player Talvin Singh’s exciting, innovative list of live acts and DJ’s, the majority of whom are heard in this album of ear-openers. Out-and-out dance or mildly pulsing ambient underground, it’s varied and vital, never boring. Given that drum ’n’ bass is only just kicking off in Scotland now, three years behind london, it’s likely to be a while before you hear Future Soundz of lndia’s ‘Shang lligh’ or the State of Bengal’s ‘Chittagong Chill’ in local clubs. Get there first. (llorrnan Chalmers)
The Healing Dame (Polydor) When the singer solemnly lntones ‘I am the serpent filled with venom, The god of love and the god of hate’, then it’s a fair bet you are listening to either Bob Dylan or Van Morrison. Van the Man it is, with a new album that offers no startling departures, but continues to mine the productive vein evident on Days like This, and noticeably absent from his subsequent lacklustre [an album, flow long Ilas This Been Doing (In?
The fact that Van sticks with what he does best on both Days like This and the new album is clearly not
coincidental. The familiar combination l of soul and R ’n’ B infused with Celtic mysticism and a hint of jazz predominates, and while the advance tape contains no information on musicians (or anything else), it sounds pretty much like his regular high- grade, soulful crew.
The ten songs are all new, but they are characteristic enough to leave a vague (although not unpleasant) feeling that we’ve been here before, which is reinforced by occasional verbal echoes of earlier classics. Morrison’s vocal phrasing remains unique, an amalgam of diverse styles moulded into a highly expressive, spiritual signature which can be imitated at the level of mannerism, but never matched. (Kenny Mathieson)
42 The List 24 Jan-6 Feb 1997