Album Reviews: February 2001

Fun Lovin’ Criminals - Loco (emi)

Self confessed kings of cool, the Fun Lovin’ Criminals release their forth album on the 26th February and quite a head turner it is to. The guys are in playful mood and from the albums first track, Where the bums go, are out to shock their audience. This really is NOT the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, more like 3 Colors Red or Limp Bizkit, edgy and loud, where’s my comfortable sling backs I thought?

This is where the playful comes in, because this is really not at all a representation of the album, sure enough fast forward to the groups first single and title track and we find the groove that the band are famous for.

This album will preceed a UK tour, kicking off in Glasgow on the 5th of March and although the album is doped up and severely cool, suspect will not reach full potential until played through a number of times.

A product that has all the hallmark elements of a Fun Lovin’ Criminals release, "irresistible groove driven beats with old soul, easy and blues guitars" coupled with ‘wah-wah’ that talks to you, none more so than on ‘My Sin’. The group show a tongue-in-cheek that will turn skaters and cowboys alike, crazy for the sound. 3/5 Nick James


Stephen Malkmus - Sweedish Reggae (Domino Recordings)

I can’t say that I was "WOW!" from the outset here, the reason I think, I was bemused, far too concerned trying to me 1 & 1 equal 2. When I finally became confident with my own conviction and realised that this was the Stephen Malkmus, he of cult American College band, Pavement, it gave me the space to appreciate that this was really quite special.

Years spent heading his former band and the confidence and musicianship this has obviously offered, has produced an album that will just blow you away. Stephen Malkmus, the person, by his photograph that adorns my pre-release copy of the album, is a rather unassuming chap. Maybe somewhat Jason Peirce (ne. Spaceman) one might conclude, but really appears to be the sort of bloke you might pass by and not give a second thought to. But give him a guitar and PA and sparks will fly.

The press release that accompanied this recording was also that unassuming chap on paper; I was drawn to conclude. The author had got it over to his audience, namely me, that really these affairs are just so that I can feel overly important in conversation and that really it is the music that counts. Someone’s been reading the words of Berry Gourdy (the founder of Motown), who said of music, "It’s what’s in the grooves that counts".

And really that’s what it is all about, so just leaves me to say, "WOW!", Stephen Malkmus still has what it takes. 4.5/5 Nick James


Rae & Christian - Sleepwalking (Grandcentral Records)

The follow-up to 1998’s, Northern Sulphoric Soul, sees the contemporary Mark Rae and Steve Christian enlist the services of long term hero Bobby Womack to add that touch of timeless class to an already lit up affair.

Crossing bridges to bring together influences from across the dance genre. But in my estimation it is guest vocalist, Kate Rogers contribution the track, Not Just Anybody, that will justify the twelve quid or so that this album will set you back. I’d be quite prepared to listen to the album that these three recorded without the crossing of bridges in sight. An album that goes deep into the emotions of the listener, both lyrically and musically to produce a more complete album, that dispute its many shifts in moods, stands up well. 3/5 Nick James


Michael Jackson - Greatest Hits - Volume 1 (Epic)

Release Date Re-scheduled


Low Finger - Who's Got The Biscuits (Elemental Records)

The NME wrote of this band, "Lowfinger are essential…here's to the future of novelty pop music." And that I can't disagree with, think of Shaun Ryder singing the line, 'She can be sweet, but today she's a nightmare. 'Cos she did too much of the cooking on the night before…" on the opening 'Super Finger', or something like that anyway and you get the picture, a slick 24hour Party People.

This album is certainly fun, never once suggesting that it might be taking itself too seriously. Carl Putnam, as I recall did this with his band, Cud, writing the ultimate post baggy party tunes. So what's this? Well I'd be inclined to suggest that this is the backlash aimed at all the pre-packaged boy/girl bands, but this just would be the case, I don't believe they've ever given it too much thought. This is just a fun album, edgy in places and extremely musical, that may have more than a healthy fixation with the fingers. 3/5 Nick James


At The Drive In — Relationship Of Command
Ever since Robbie Williams’ gobsmacked face after this band’s performance on Jools Holland I’ve been intrigued to hear more. The latest single, "Invalid Letter Dept." has been getting a fair bit of airplay of late on Radio One’s evening session and if you’ve heard that you’ll know what a terrific single it is.

At The Drive In go a little deeper than that though, and I kind of like the fact that, aforementioned single aside, there isn’t really another track commercial enough to release after that. Not one that stands out anyway. They do stand out in other ways though. I feel like The Pixies are happening all over again as this appears to be the 21st century equivalent to Punk Rock and boy do we need something like that. I suppose at a push "Mannequin Republic" could get away with being put out but whatever it doesn’t really matter. It’s the kind of thing where you can come home after a bad day and smash your room / house / cardboard box up to. They will probably scare people of a certain vintage but those of us in the know realise that Celine Dion is infinitely more frightening. Tasty. 4/5 Tone E

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