iRocK ,"Black-‘Grape ~

5.;Stupid, Stupid, Stupid (Radioactive) *** as the festive season startsgalloping over the horizon towards us. here

comes Mr Shaun Ryder and his‘m‘erry gang of rabble rousers, blagging their

. my 'lnto the-party. hijacking the stereo and shouting 'Listen to this. It's

* ’fooking topsl'

. And so it is. sort of. All the component parts of It’s Great When You're Straight . . . Yeah! haveb’een dropped into the mix again (the rapping, the funk chassis. the feeling that the Grape gang had a riot recording this), it's just that this time around they aren‘t as immediately vivid. Nor are there

any obvious killer singles in the vein of ‘Kelly‘s Heroes' and 'In The Name Of


Still. let's enjoy what we’ve got for this is a good, if not great, album. “Stupid. Stupid. Stupid kicks off with 'Get Higher’ in which an ersatz Ronald Reagan grimly intones that ‘despite our best efforts, shortages of marijuana have been reported'. Ryder's mischievous sense of humour continues throughout. both lyrically and musically. ‘Money Back Guaranteed is typical, starting off with a twisted western. Morricone-style intro before warping into some big beat samba madness. This pick and mix collage of styles is the album's only constant factor and also its greatest strength. (Jonathan Trew)

reflects the largely tranquil minimalist sound world they explore here. They do so in their own distinctive fashion, which will doubtless pain the authentic performance lobby, but this very enjoyable disc is not aimed at such exclusive parameters. (KM)


Vanessa Mae Storm (EMl) tr

This is a pop album, Vanessa Mae announces in her sleeve notes, and she won’t get any argument from the classical establishment. Whether it’s what the pop market wants remains to be seen, but having scored with Nigel Kennedy in the crossover stakes, EMI are at it again with this rather bizarre mish-mash, complete with obligatory

sultry pics. It all sounds a bit music—for- adverts snatches of Bach and Vivaldi set to drum-tracks, a schmaltzy choir, a dash of flamenco, a can-can (umm, is this very 905?) with a hint of sexual gratification in the background (ah, it is), a pseudo-Celtic setting of 3 Burns song, covers of Donna Summer and Focus. And so on. And on. And on . . . (KM)

FOLK Fergie MacDonald

The 21 ’st Album (Greentrax) *t r: t

The legendary Acharacle button—box player has finally come of age, even if he keeps company with the best of the younger musicians in Lochaber. Produced by friend and admirer Phil Cunningham (they’re both expert clay

pigeon shots) this rollicking dance CD is just the thing for the turntable when the nights draw in and the whisky comes out. The 43 great tunes are driven along by some of the finest West Highland instrumentalists including piper/flute player lain MacDonald, and Glenfinnan fiddler Iain MacFarlane, with the superb Alan MacColl on second box. Colm O Ruaidh's 'oirish’ banjo blows in a whiff of the Occasionals, and helps give the album its swaggering ceilidh feel, and definite lack of decorum. (NCh)


Rhythm and Rhyme (Grapevine)

** ink

From West Belfast, two brothers, two sisters and a cousin, still in their twenties, have taken that awful hybrid, folkrock, and finally made it work! Amazingly good playing on uillean pipes, flute, fiddle etc; appealing, dusty vocals from Tina McSherry; top flight session musos on drums, bass, percussion, strings and even slide guitar; and even Mr Donal Lunny himself lending a helping hand all this and two years in the making, has produced a new sound that will definitely be noticed. Highly original in its treatments, it has old chestnuts like 'Crazy Man Michael', and even Yeats’ ’Sally Gardens’ (in Gaelic) painted in bright new colours. Check this out. (NCh)

Teenage Fanclub Start Again (Creation) * * *wk

Oasis should think themselves privileged to share the same planet as Teenage Fanclub, never mind the same label. In the rock classicism stakes, the Bellshill boys are furlongs ahead. ’Start Again' sees Norman Blake perform his usual alchemist's trick of turning melodic country-tinged rock into meaningful, soul-inspiring magic. (PR)

The Karelia Love's A Cliche (Roadrunner) t Hr *

More sleazy listening from the men with the best quiffs in Glasgow. Coming as four separate arrangements, the lead epitomises their bug-out jazz style, while the other three are Noel Coward goes indie, Neil Hannon in space, and PJ Harvey playing queasy trumpet. Inventive, impressive and invariably insane. (PR)

record reviews MUSIC Portishead

Over (Go! Beat) *‘ki

This couldn't be less radio-friendly if it was called ’Zoe Ball Is A Talentless Hoofer'. 'Over’ creeps in with minimalist chord plucking and Beth Gibbons’s whisky purr, before filling with distorted drums, uneasy scratching and a final evil blues guitar break. Imagine a slowed-down, doped- up ’When The Levee Breaks'. (PR)

Dub Pistols

Best Got Better/Blaze The Room (Concrete) *irt

The big beats, frantic scratching, dirty guitar and floor-friendly vocal line of ’Best Got Better' should set both clubs and charts alight. ‘Blaze The Room’ is less obvious, but its mad-fer—it aggression, building tempo and sirens make for an effective stomp. Meatier than a John Holmes sarnie. (PR)

Future Pilot AKA/Mount Vernon

Arts Lab

Meditation Rat/Bad Vibrations (Creeping Bent) ****

This split single is a must for anyone who reckons they’ve heard it all. ’Meditation Rat’, a building, throbbing mantra, is the lovechild of Ravi Shankar, Lee Perry and Loop. ’Bad Vibrations’ alternates between hypnotic garage-band groove and an abyss of found sounds and studio noises. File under ’whaddafuck?’ (PR)

Super Furry Animals Demons (Creation) * at *1: *

Proving the case for trumpets and banjos in rock, this semi-acoustic, downbeat anthem is an instant classic. Flip-sides ’Hit and Run’, a fuzzy Beach Boys sprint, and 'Carry The Can', a sliver of space-folk, are also beyond reproach. The scary cartoon cover appears to feature a fanged-up Maxim Prodigy. (PR)


Jim Byers, Norman Chalmers, Neil Cooper, Alastair Mabbott, Kenny Mathieson, Peter Ross, Fiona Shepherd, Jonathan Trew,

STAR RATINGS fr * i t * Unmissable *iiir Very ood ** it Wort a shot air * Below average it You’ve been .wamed