record reviews


The Secret Goldfish

Mink Riots (creeping bent) it at:

For the last two years, The Secret Goldfish have been touting a piece of music called ’Pink Drone’, basically Smokey Robinson’s ’Going To A Go- Go’ mashed up and anchored to a relentless Velvet Underground groove. And here it is again, on their latest opus; still the aural equivalent of being smacked repeatedly in the face, still sounding finer than a silkworm’s toupee. Pity then that it's prefaced by their usual forgettable faux-Motown sandal-pop. All very summery and well- intentioned, but fatally the Singer sounds like Gail Porter at a spelling bee and the hooks are curiously sparse. ’Pink Drone’ aside, these fish ain’t bitin’. (PW)


I Love You . . . Me (RCA) a it it

Sexy, soulful R&B from a highly photogenic newcomer With a silken voice and no small degree of TLC sass. This album is a defiant comeback to ten years of abuse suffered at the hands of a boyfriend, given short shrift on ’Steppin' Stone’ With the line, 'Every time you treat me wrong, it gives me the strength to carry on.’ Go, girlfriend, and so forth - although whether violent males should really be thanked for teaching their victims self- esteem and survival skills is debatable. Musically, it’s breaking little in the way of new ground, but it’s a slick, stylish debut. (HM)


Jahoda Witness ($2) 4:

Oh Lord, who let these people out of their parents’ garage? The worst bottom-of-the-bill suppOrt act in history have wangled themselves a record deal (perhaps something to do with the fact that some of them are the offspring of the entrepreneur who founded Radio Caroline) and made an album the effect of which is equivalent to that of having your head put in a tumble dryer. And not in a good way. Hoarse squalling and chainsaw guitars give way to ’sensitive’ moments that showcase the singer’s piss-poor little voice, and lame, scratchy funk-metal recalls the horrors of Pop Will Eat Itself. Stomach-churnineg bad. (HM)

Demolition Doll Rods TLA (Matador) «I: are a:

Before Courtney Love got her coat of Hollywood varnish, she used to go in for the kind of raw, desolate, stripped- back laments that Detroit’s Demolition Doll Rods dabble in on this album. Elsewhere they go in for roughed-up garage rock 'n’ roll and slutty girl- group vocals in the spirit of Thee Headcoatees. The unpolished vocals and buzzsaw guitars signal a resolutely lo-fi project. but one with all the trash appeal of the best Russ Meyer movies. Listen in a beataup car whilst wearing leopardskin and receivmg sexual favours from a petrol pump attendant with tequila on his breath. (HM)

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Ben Christophers

My Beautiful Demon (V2) k * iv

Essex boy Ben Christophers will probably never need to go back to his porn mag packing job, but whether he vill achieve unsurpassable glory in the business end of the pop world is another matter. His debut My Beautiful Demon is an amiable enough set of electro-folk fine-tunery, but while there is much in the way of grace going on, somewhere along the line the heart was wrenched from the songs. His voice is almost unbearably fragile and the songs have titles like ’Sunday’, 'Healer', ’Before The Winter Parade’ and ’Skyscraper’. But try as they might, they just don’t fly. (BD)



Black Gangster (Black Hand) are This is a soundtrack, not to a movie, but a novel by US author Donald Goines. Fifteen US hip hop artists contribute tracks, from big players to up-and-comers. Following the lead of the book, the gangster imagery permeates every track, each artist giving their own take on gangster life. Jay-Z, Ja Rule, DMX and Jane Blaze make worthwhile contributions, but sadly too much here has been done before, and often with more style, finesse and funk. Innovation is not the only criteria for a good track; simple replication can lead to frustrating listening. (MR)


Future Generations (Yushl) at» it it it. Hardly pegged as workshy fops anyway, the self-proclaimed ’hardest working producers in Edinburgh’ return with a double album of diverse tunes. The backbone of the album is pure hip hop, but it finds time for reggae dancehall, funk jazz, Latin and soul to be slung into the mix.

The overall feel is deCidedly international, but its roots are firmly embedded in Edinburgh, with a number of guest players including Kulu, Incognito vocalist Joy Rose and sax player Martin Kershaw. Highlights include a contribution from dancehall queen Nubia on ’Fade Away’, and the turntable trickery of ’Battle Beats' which contains some extremely familiar sci-fi film samples.

Aspiring hip hop players in the UK, never mind in Scotland, have very few opportunities for exposure on a grand scale. Here's hoping a quality act like this get a chance to shine. (MR)



GatecrasherWet (INCredibIe)

fr it it t

For those that don’t know, Gatecrasher is the clubbing bastion for 905 ravers with glowsticks in hand and Mitsubishi symbols painted all over their persons. The club has been famously championing the enormously popular Euro trance sound so favoured by Judge Jules et al, and has received an awful lot of publicity about it in the major magazines of late.

Gatecrasher Wet is their summer compilation, a continuous mix of accessible trance belters made to get sweaty on a podium to. The two CD

Witness Beforeliilnd) ‘* ’57....” . .....

Witness: witless

'Into the womb again' intones Gerard Starkie on this album's opener. 'Second Life'. It’s a .fair assessment of Witness’s post-Radiohead. guided- tour-round-my-injured-psyche approach, expressing an obsessive introspection and a yearning for security. Someone once did a survey of newspaper columnists, calculating their levels of self-obsession by the number of times they used the personal pronoun in their writing; if they'd extended their remit into rock ’n' roll. Starkie would have come top. And

then written-a sad song about it.

Before the Calm is "musically conventional; folky guitars giving way to shimmery keyboards. plus the obligatory awkward dabble with beats on 'Cause And Effect' and 'Audition'. The tunes can't stand alone; killer lyrics and devastating vocals could save them, but Starkie has neither. His voice is characterless and his lumbering words make Noel Gallagher sound like a

nimble linguistic gazelle.

So do we need another upset boy to air his woes? Can't we clean out The Verve's quarters? God knows there’s a horrible smell in there, and Richard took all the mirrors with him when he left. Can't we let a bit of air in and put a stop to all this navel-gazing and sixth-form poetry? (Hannah McGill)

compilation will apparently come with a matt varnish finish and spot UV graphics (begs the question: how many folk have UV lights at home?) Unfortunately, the promo wasn’t as flash so we reserve judgement on the aesthetics. The tracklisting has all the current and soon-to-be stompers: Hybrid, Carl Cox, ATB and Chicane all get the nod, which will undoubtably make this one of the most popular summer dance compilations of ’99. (SB)

CLASSICAL Colin's Kisses

Concerto Caledonia (Linn) **** Born in the village of Crail in 1710, James Oswald rose through the 18th century’s musical ranks to become chamber composer to George III. This collection brings together several of his distinctive short pieces, including some not previously recorded. His airs and dances are full of graceful tunes which weave traditional Scottish rhythms and phrases into the baroque style, building a bridge, in particular, between the chamber violin and the folky fiddle. Peppered through the programme are ten songs from the Collin’s Kisses cycle, delightfully sung by soprano Catherine Bott and tenor Iain Paton. The crisp playing by period instrumentalists Concerto Caledonia brings out the beauty in all of Oswald’s melodies. (AM)

Gay Dad Oh Jim (Polydor) is:

This time, the Dad appear to have dragged the fly-blown corpse of Sigue Sigue Sputnik along to their increasingly tiresome Roxy/Stones/ Sinitta circus. Which is great if you think that jesters’ hats are hilarious and Mansun are, like, cool, but not so great if you have any semblance of sense or humanity. Cliff dear, WI” you just tell us the punchline so we can go home now? (SD)

Freddy Fresh

What It Is (Eye Q) a it

Another slab of breakbeat jiggery- pokery from Minneapolis’ finest cut- and-paste maestro, living somewhere between Norman Cook’s odd-sock drawer and the local library’s collection of blaxploitation flicks. There’s funk aplenty and a charmingly off-kilter Shut Up and Dance remix, but sadly inspiration is as thin on the ground as snow in July. (LM)

Basement Jaxx

Rendez-Vu (XL) 1r * w w at

There is a very good reason for the media frenzy that has encompassed all things Jaxx this year, and this Single is the perfect showcase for it. In a perfect fusion of London and Latin, they