Album Reviews: July 2002

Daniel Ash - Daniel Ash (Psychobaby)

T: I think the ex-Bauhaus man has been feeding himself on a diet of recent Gary Numan albums and Sigue Sigue Sputnik, judging by the resultant album. Here is living proof that you can make blinding, cutting edge music well into your forties and beyond.

N: It certainly possesses the spirit of the Bauhaus. Full of shadows and menace. When he collects his pension, do you think he'll write another "Summer Holiday"? As Ozzy Osbourne had an audience with the Queen, why not Daniel?

T: It's a remarkably impressive album, but if the Queen ever invites him to play at one of her concerts I will eat all my clothes and walk naked down the high street shouting "Have no fear. Mothballs is here".

N: I don't know. You can't tell me that you can't see the Queen in a black leather trenchcoat. Bang goes my knighthood. 8/10


Rose Tattoo - Pain (SPV)

The lead singer of this band is one Angry Anderson. The press release somehow has managed to overlook the man in question's "Suddenly" that was used as the theme tune to Scott and Charlene's wedding in Neighbours. How convenient. Well it didn't escape our eagle eyed writers attention anyway.

N: Some of this possesses a Page and Plant quality in the music that's produced, but then he starts to sing, and we get to see just how angry this man really is.

T: There is certainly a touch of "Kashmir" about a couple of the tracks anyway. However, I think I would rather cleanse myself in a bath filled with slugs than have to endure the rest of this album. Sorry. I'm sure Rose Tattoo have probably already done this anyway, given their rock 'n' roll lifestyle. 3/10


Chumbawamba - Readymades (Universal)

Prepare yourselves for a weekend of cider, fiddles and hey nonny nonny, as Leeds' finest go all folky on us. I wouldn't be surprised to see them playing Cropreddy next year at this rate.

T: Off on a totally different tangent again, Chumbawamba are certainly fans of bewildering their existing fans with different directions. This is a really chilled out album that, even given its roots, doesn't ever come across as being twee, thankfully. In fact on "Jacob's Ladder" they sound more like Brothers In Sound. And I've always loved bands who actually have something to say. In that respect, you probably have to go back to Morrissey in the Smiths' heyday to even come close. 8/10


Clean - More Or Less The Truth (Sugarshack)

Probably the best album I've heard all year, if not this century! This Swiss outfit, who boast not a flugal horn in sight, relocated to the UK in a bid to have their music taken seriously and chose not London or Manchester in which craft their sound, but the melting-pot of Bristol, home of Animal Magic and mores to the point, Trip-hop. The band's singer Pascal Gamboni explains that "The Swiss music industry is only interested in bands who sing in German or dialect - they're not interested in our stuff. Even if you're big there, you never make it big outside..." "Clean was just too damn weird..." Certanly this album may not have been quite the same had the guys not soaked up the atmosphere of in the West Country's capital, but Eurovision it is certainly not.

T: Right. That's the bloke who did the intro's point of view. What do you think, Nick?

N: As I wrote that intro, I guess you know how I feel about it. But we're sat here on tenterhooks waiting for your opinion.

T: Aha. Well, i like it too. I don't think I'd say it was the best album of the year though. Certainly enjoyable enough. I still say Jetplane Landing for album of the year myself. You can definitely see the Bristol band influence here, however much they may try to get away from it. Massive Attack and Portishead are both in evidence here, but with more guitars. It pops over to Oxford every now and again to play head tennis with Supergrass, but in the main it's undeniably a South Western affair. 9/10


My Vitriol - Finelines/Between The Lines (Infectious)

T: You already know how much we like this album. Remixed by Steve Thompson in a more rough-around-the-edges cut than before, it's just as emphatic and uplifting as it was first time around. At the office of my "other" job, all the people I work with hate it. In some perverse way, this endears me to it still further. And now it's twice as long, with an album of B-sides and rarities to boot. Lovely.

N: Sometimes I could place this band into the same box alongside the mighty Muse, but then there's the more tender moments that are emphasised on the B-sides of "Between the Lines". Have Kerrang! discovered these guys yet, or all the glossy magazines? Not just a remarkable debut, but second time around, they manage to get away with it. 10/10


Alpinestars - White Noise (Riverman)

Their second longplayer, this Manchester duo (Glynn Thomas and Richard Woolgar) have drawn influence from middle-European music fetish and produced an album where the European Son takes the Model out on a date and scores by the end of the evening. But enough of the glib comment, exactly what did our panel think...

T: Having been very impressed with their debut album "B.A.S.I.C.", I was wary that this may sound too much like its predecessor to warrant much of a review. I have been pleasantly surprised upon first listen. It's unmistakeably the Alpinestars admittedly, but there are enough surprises in here to whet your palate, and it looks as though they've come up with the goods again. 8/10


Wilt - My Medicine (Mushroom)

T: Ok, so here's another one that sounds enormously like REM in places, but then they redeem themselves and proceed to blister their way through an engaging and pumped full of adrenaline album that sends the feel goodometer through the roof.

N: I tend to think this may be considered a little generic, but the market place is out there, and musically this is an adept album whose content will keep you on your toes.

T: I'm sure Bob Mould is very flattered anyway. 7/10


Gerling - Headzcleaner (Infectious)

Do you come from a land down under? Seems a lot of talented artists do. Gerling are no exception,and, as it says in the press release, Headzcleaner is the weapon of choice for the b boy, the post rock aesthete, the disco diva, the skate kid and the stardust generation. Quite. And they got Kylie in on it too, so they're ok by me.

T: Quite amusing that the last single "Dust Me Selecta" seems to feature Mark and Lard's Barry White type character that they regularly feature on their show. Now I'll be honest. This starts off fantastically and I really thought I was going to love the album, but it seemed to drift off towards the end, and for me, it never really recovered. So, it looks like I'll be programming my CD player to play the first half and "The Deer In Me" and then just stop.

N: I can see what you're referring to. It sort of ends up like an electronic jam, most certainly with the exception of "The Deer in Me", that appears to hold dear the spirit of the JAMC. This is so quirky though, although it may not be on my regular playlist, when the padded room beckons, I may just slip this on. Along with the white coat with the long arms. 7/10


Idlewild - The Remote Part (Parlophone)

T: I don't know if REM have influenced more bands than I'd previously noticed, but here, for the third time this issue, I' going to have to do it again. To good effect though, I would add.

N: A bit down, isn't it? Not terribly uplifting. A bit sort of "go to the bathroom with a carving knife" in places.

T: I beg to differ - I find it quite uplifting, even on the slower tracks. Anyway I don't need to take a carving knife to the bathroom. My razor's fixed now. I think Idlewild fans will love this album, and they more than likely will pick up a fair few new fans along the way. 7/10

web site


Dirty Vegas - Dirty Vegas (Parlophone)

Dirty Vegas, not some sleazy gambling den, but 3 lads with the spirit of Southern England running through their veins and by the sounds of it, one banging holiday in Ibiza, circa '93 still high on the priorities. It's bugging me now, it's not Oakenfold or any number of DJ's 'proper albums' released this year, but it is familiar. An album that does need volume, whether it be in the car or sat in your comfortable chair, mainlining the sounds through a pair of 'cans'. That's it! I've been here before, the nearest likeness I can draw (and it is close), is Nick Warren's Way Out West. Composition is solid and where Nick and Jody would not attempt to vocalise on their albums, as far as I can make out Dirty Vegas do and to good effect. The album went straight into the top 10 across the Atlantic, entering at number 7, selling 65,000 units in the first week of sales, boosted no doubt by an appearance on the Jay Leno show.

N: Well that's the stage set, Mr E. your comments please...

T: In total contrast to what I already know your views are, my favourite track on here is indeed the baggy themed new single "Ghosts". That's not to say that I dislike the rest of the album though. It has a really lazy, laid back feel to it, and being lazy and laid back myself, that really appeals to me. Light up the barbecues, then relight them, then pick up the charcoal that was once intended to be a hot dog and hurtle it across the garden in a state of fury. All this to the backdrop of Dirty Vegas' new album. 8/10


The Stranglers - Peaches: The Very Best Of (EMI)

T: Ask your dads. These were the coolest of the cool in their day. I am thankfully not QUITE old enough to remember them in their earliest incarnation. My earliest memory is as a wide eyed 12 year old in the early eighties whilst "Golden Brown" was taking the nation's charts by storm. Of course, at the time I probably thought it was about toast or something rather than the H word, but still.

N: All that, but to today's twelve year olds, this is likely to be three stripes on my trainers. Probably the momentum behind the release of this album, and that's no bad thing, as it replaces my rather ropey copy of the original Stranglers Greatest Hits!

T: What else is there to say really? These were truly great great songs. All the classics are here - "Peaches", "No More Heroes", "Golden Brown" and "Strange Little Girl" probably being the best known, but the whole thing just epitomises what a top band the Stranglers truly were. 10/10

web site / biography


The Squeeze - Big Squeeze (The Very Best Of...) (A&M)

You wouldn't really have guessed at the time, that Jools Holland would progress from this band and become a cult icon well into the 21st century. Still, he was evidently the band's driving force, especially when you get to some of the more dubious tracks they recorded after his departure...

N: I don't know. The band DID have some shining moments after he'd gone, and the Difford Tillbrook songwriting partnership was one of those truly great ones.

T: Admittedly, and "Up The Junction" is a mixture of the best and worst lyrics of all time. I just think after he'd gone some of their stuff got a bit samey. I'm trying desperately to scan this CD to back up my theory, but sadly I have yet to do so successfully. "Labelled With Love" was possibly a little lame though. I never really liked "Tempted" either. There, that'll do. 9/10

Glenn Tilbrook / Chris Difford


Nerd - In Search Of... (Virgin)

T: Now this makes a refreshing change. A bit like a rock version of Outkast, N*E*R*D are pushing back the boundaries of contemporary rap and I like it.

N: From the opening "Lapdance" here, ,this just oozes sleaze. Now, lyrically, its "parental advisory content" is nothing that different from any number of rappers whose content is found to treat the female sex as property. But I think it should be treated tongue in cheek, and after all, the backing tracks are awesome.

T: I would have to agree with you there. Anyway, this is way ahead of many of its kind and demands multiple plays from numerous angles. Preferably with mirrored ceilings and a wide angle lens. 9/10

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