Carol Swain -l-.i"t;igi‘;iphi(:si 00.

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LAMUL )WAIK Set against the backdrop of post— lhatcher Wales. a grim landscape of closed (i.)i'.t}.’l(}fi and high uni>niplo,'rnent. Carol 8.1a ri's graphic short

'. tells the tale of two My (15;. (liar: 'the '71,: .i too, '. ‘.‘./hI(;h 'xaiisiates as lackey or (inset). and Boss. (1 free T".:'1'\(‘:' ‘.'./ho gives up on tit ’7‘§>(l{}l'l‘- '.‘.'or!d for a ‘-';"a hie i.'l the

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Sun'ain's is a bleak tale. Sketslvxl in Wakes. it 'i‘akes you train; that has the ‘.'.()l;:l (:on‘e to? But it's also full of humanity. exen if ()llt‘, between two (httSldUl'fS. Except that's il‘z-C‘, point: society no .oi‘giei has much to offer tne ‘ll(li‘.i(ILJ<’ll which is sonar», Titty political .efz, (l().’l‘l(l§3 guru Alan Moore (lllétllltflollCd the book; 'a little masterpece'. he calls it. -lv‘i.les l-uelder)


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l le bad to come from f.’,.'ll-f:.‘.'.'l(:l'(}. the genius for he is ',"kno‘.'.ri who (iaui; ris The Simpsons and r’uIr/ra/na WHICH ~.'."e'|- at. be claiming is genius too in ten years'


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time first vented his nOOdly-dOOdly monochrome spleen in this quartet of nele re- published books. Greening explores the pain. trauma and general discomfort of daily life in all its ironic glory kind of like a late 80s Jimmy Corrigan but with a punchline. The format is single page gags. on anything from types of employee (are yOu the racist jokester? The tyrannical pipsgueak? Or the boss' nephew?) to a selection of those essential parental brain twisters l'One day you'll thank me for this'. ‘How could yOu be so stupid?) Binky the WORK IS H



new seesaw LOVE IS “SH;

paranoid rabbit. Akbar and Jeff the paranoid gay couple and Bongo the paranoid devH child are quite obviously the blueprint for America's most loved dysfunctional family but this is very much his tentative steps. There are flashes of recognisable magic but the premise for all four

books is the same —essentially, that life is indeed. hell and this gets a little wearing over time. As a history lesson. these books are essential, and there are plenty cringing. painful laughs along the way. (Mark Robertson)


(FantagraphiCS) 0000




Nowadays. romance comics are viewed as pro-feminist. backward thinking pulp titles that endlessly retold stories of female dis— empowerment. But during the genre's heyday. 1949-55. when sales of a billion issues cornered a guarter of the comics market. something more liberal. often outrageous. was going on in titles such as Teenage TemptatiO/is and Diary Secrets. Here. girls plotted illicit weekends with boys and came unstuck in love. but learned from their mistakes and found they were in charge of their own fate.

Romance Without Tears collects 20 such liberated tales. written by Dana Dutch. an unsung master of the genre. Quality of the stOrytelling aside. these hidden gems. subversive. progressive stories published during the decade infamous for political and cultural repression. are a fascinating discovery. (Miles Fielder)

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Dutch’s Romance Without Tears

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Reggae Duets (Trojan) COO

Gaz Mayall Top! Ska Tunes (Trojan) .0 Tree of Satta (Blood and Fire) .0...

Critical consensus says Trojan has been outplayed by Souljazz in the reggae wars. The warriors of Troy might have the epic back catalogue but it’s the Souljazzers who have detonated the jukebox fury of the % Dynamite senes.

Maybe so.

Yet while there remains a suspicion that Trojan favours volume over quality, you can be sure that each 50-track themed box-set boasts a couple of gems. This one flies the spirit of Shirley & Lee’s ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ to Jamaica. So Bob & Marcia do more than justice to ‘Private Number’, Lloyd & Glen have a prod at Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Keep on Pushing’ and Dave & Bunny wax political on ‘What a Confusion’. The only bugbear is the theme is stretched so thin it leaves one wondering exactly when a backing vocal (however accomplished) became a duet.

Gaz Mayall has been doing the ska club thing since Two Tone days and the guy must have a fine record collection but . . . well, to these ears there are three very nice tracks here. Standout is Derrick Harriott’s surprise twisting of ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’.

Tree of Satta could be reggae’s version of the Louie Louie Files the Abyssinians’ ‘Satta Massa Gana’ stood to attention and saluted by many. There are numerous irreduciny beautiful and heroic moments but the absolute tear-Spiller is Bernard Collin’s ‘Satta Me No Born Yah’. The epitome of ‘soul’, it’s about as close to heaven as you get without having your name down on St Peter’s guest list. Me, I’m a plus one.

(Rodger Evans)

particularly toe tapping effect on recent single ‘You Will You Won't'. newie ‘Presswe Point' and cracking final track 'Moons and Horror Shows'. That said. having Ian Broudie at the helm as producer and a song about the City's football hooliganism problem shows that while you can take the band out of Liverpool. breaking the m0uld completely may take slightly more effort. (Emma NewlandS)


THE ZUTONS Who Killed the Zutons? (Deltasonic) COO.

Psychedelic Scouse bands may be ten a penny these days. but this debut has been concocted wrth a little bit more spice than usual. Blues. soul. and even twangs of country all elevate this above a low rent Coral tribute. to


THE BLUESKINS Word of Mouth (Domino) 0000

You wouldn't be blamed

for never wanting to hear another scruffy guitar- tuelled track again. after garage rock exploded onto the scene. multiplied into millions of copycat bands and now limps to a rather tragic end with Jet as its talentless. neanderthalic swan song. Yet if you did write off the whole genre you'd be missing out on the Blueskins. a fiery and frenetic Yorkshire foursome who back up the usual spiralling solos and thundering drums-filled sound with perfect and infectiously rhythmic two-minute pop songs. Ryan Spendlove‘s SOUIful. devilish howl cloaked occasionally in soaring harmonies is the centre-piece for this thrilling blues punk cacophany which. all scenes aside. makes for a riotously good listen. (Camilla Pia)

INDIE SPARE SNARE Learn To Play (Chute) O...

If you haven't yet been introduced. Spare Snare are a five-piece from Dundee. Aberdeen and Wick and this is their sixth LP. Where the hell have you been?

While the likes of Arab Strap. ldlewild. Guided By Voices and Snow Patrol have been falling for their beautifully ramshackle efforts. the rest of us have been majorly missing out. as proven by Learn to Play. which is as good an introduction to the band as any. Based on aCOustiC guitars. wry lyrics and snatches of electronica. this is a Wistful and rather wonderfully folky listen that will make you wonder how you ever managed to live without them. (Camilla Pia)