record reviews


Saint Etienne

Good Humor (Creation) at it 1r * it

If you only buy one record this year . . . then you're probably a freeloading music journalist with one of the inkies (you know, the papers people used to read when they were good). And you won’t like this band any longer because fashion and your edit0r dictate to you that music that is both popular and understood by the non- aesthetically challenged must be in some way suspect. What a bag of Supercilious shite St Etieiiiie's fourth LP is as authentically anthemic, Cinematic, handbagesque and Sixties suffused as its predecessors. Buy two copies just in case and make the summer last forever. (RE)

The Pale Fountains

Longshot For Your Love (Marina)

at ‘k ab

An odds-and-sods collection of rarities, Peel sessions and live recordings from early 80s whimsical Scousers who delighted a few With their lush pop songs before China Crisis and The Lotus Eaters grabbed five minutes more fame than they did. The Pale Fountains exemplify an innocent era long enough after punk to permit the jangling of guitars and sporting of floppy fringes, cardigans and sandals, but before the yuppie boom of the mid-80s They lacked the lyrical bite and pseudo-punk influences of Orange Jiiice and Aztec Camera but their ability to pen fresh gunar pop swathed in orchestration excused a tendency to be photographed in liaystacks and other pastoral locations. W0uld it spoil the image to report that brothers Michael and John Head went on to become heroin addicts? (ES)

The Poison Sisters

Tarantula Rising (Flotsam & Jetsam)

1k * it

The long-awaited debut from the band who've been filling the 13th Note since Bis were still running about in short trousers. Sandy Black’s voice is a disturbing mix of Nick Cave, Morrisey

48 THE usr 14-28 May 1998

and Noel Coward, while the music sweeps from the slow-burning opener ‘76 Years’ to the horror-tales of ’Up On The Wagon', with little time for contemplation in between. Definitely one to scare your grandchildren with. (C R)


Big Wow (Yoyo) ***

Despite an absence (from record- releasing at any rate) of a good few years and a considerable amount of line-up juggling, Whiteout return to the fray with a very consistent album consistent within itself and with past retro rootsy releases. Guitarist Eric Lindsay takes on lead vocal duties with harmonious back-up from bassist Paul Carroll. Their particularly loyal fanbase (including half the population of Japan, it seems) will go a bundle on their stoned Stonesy ballads, like ’Back Where I Used To Be', their power pop stompers like the instantly memorable ’I Don't Want To Hear About lt’ and their all-round serVices to the Big Chorus. Only the occaSional laboured moment like ’Out On The Town' lets things slide a little on an album that likes its no-holds-barred classic rock moments. (FS)

Lo-Fidelity Allstars

How To Operate With A Blown Mind (Skint) 1k 1k air air

Congratulations Lo-Fidelity Allstars - you have come within spitting distance of producing the fin de s/ec/e album to end all milleniums that you so desperately wanted to make.

How so? Well, everything about How To Operate. . . (With its just-so Funkadelic title) from the opening spoken word crescendo (reminiscent of The Moody Blues‘ In Search Of The Lost Chord, prog-spotters) to the closing comedown of the totally chilled ’Nightime Story' is exquisitely- calculated to push all the right buttons. The Lo-Fi Allstars are certainly one of your better options if you want funky hip-hop-influenced dance music from a 'hood you can identify with. Mu5ic-literate white boys dom’ the best they can, the L0- Fis are the celebratory flipside to Massive Attack’s trippy paranoia.


Whiteout: shock 'n' roll


Angels With Dirty Faces (Island) * at ‘k

This album will confound those who think that Tricky’s output has more in common with the emperor's new clothes than the warped genius which is often attributed to the man. A more rounded album than his previous works. it might even win him fans rather than alienate the existing ones. it's still not a great album. though.

Many of the Tricky trademarks are still in place: the oft deadpan delivery. the dysfunctional tunes. the dark feel of hidden menace which infuses some of the tracks and the usual lyrical concerns about how everyone is out to get Tricky but he's smarter than all of them. What sets this apart from Maxinquaye and Durban Poison is that Tricky has bothered to write actual songs rather than the loose collection of found sounds. echoes and half-heard whispers which characterised much of his first two albums.

Most surprising of all is that some of the tracks verge on the upbeat - not happy. obviously, but at least thinking about having a spring in their step. Martina and PJ Harvey add their welcome contributions to the vocals.


Tricky: :0 angel

Zen Guerilla

Positronic Raygun (Lockjaw)

1k wk ‘k 1r 1k

The title might read like it’s been hauled from the depths of cheesy SOs SCl-fi B-mowedom but this is a different strain of retro. Rocket-fuelled San FranCisco quartet Zen Guerilla get transcendental to the sound of spiritually fired-up garage blues that hits the ground somewhere between Blues Explosion and a hazy four in the morning jam featuring MCS. Throughout this belter of a disc our combat-trained mystics wang dang and doodle their way through a twisted blur, dragged kicking and screaming from some lonesome truck stop somewhere in the late 605. Then just to completely mess with your head, it hits a brick wall to the sound of a Barry White (l) tape loop. All hail the Positronic Raygun and all who fall under her influence. (LT)



North Pole Radio Station (Domino)

~k int‘k

Bin the familiar script when practised sonic enchanters Pram enter the equation. By turns mysterious, hypnotic and seductive, this intriguingly titled collection of ethereal drifting sounds - some ’altered' pop, some atmospheric doodling - sounds like the soudtrack to 3 'Singing Ringing Tree' style dark fairytale or lost masterpiece of Eastern European animation. Strangely captivating in a distinctly 'out there'/’in orbit' kind of a way. (LT)


Various Artists

Lyricist Lounge Volume One (Open Mic/Rawkus) amt *

Since ’91, New York’s Lyricist has been

prowding a unique forum for live hip hop while at the same time acting as a valuable talent school for rising acts. The basic concept of the Lyricist Lounge happenings is for a big name star to host the evening while a motley crew of the famous and not so famous rub shoulders and demonstrate their various styles in the context of an authentic ’open mic' spectacular. Of the two shows featured here, disc one has De La Soul hosting with featured MCs including Q-Tip, O.C., Ras Kass, Black Thought and Common while disc two has Ultramagnetics' Kool Keith aka Dr Octagon and sidekick Sir Menelik bringing the Lounge experience live from Shea stadium with attractions including Natural Elements, Bahamadia, A.L., Jurassic 5, Zack de la Rocha and KRS-One. Overall Lyricist Lounge is that rare beast an album where the quality of the idea is matched by the power of its realisation. (LT)

Lewis Parker

Masquerades And Silhouettes (Melankolic) * * * a:

UK hip hop, regularly a source of embarrassment, has its select few good men. LeWis Parker is the latest y0ung gun to chop up the tired genre and find his own way to break it down. fusmg eloquent rhyming and a whole rack of Star Wars name-checks with a John Barry style loungecore backdrop, Parker is determined to be counted as a new world innovator. If you buy just one album this month . . . (CR)

AGIT HOP Asian Dub Foundation

Rafi’s Revenge (London Records)

fr it * *

Having smacked our synapses about a bit over the course of three or four gigs in the past eight months, this debut