James: Born Of Frustration
Andrew Collins: Did you ever like James?
James Dean Bradfield: Never
Andrew Collins: Oh dear. We all did, didn't we, readers? I had their 'Strip Mine' LP on just before, and to tell the truth, it sounded ropier and less directional than it did then. Which leads us on to New James, who in '92, sound focused and sure of their strengths. 'Sound' dared to be utterly un-single-like and it paid off. This one's an air pummelling Simple Minds epic whose chorus will fuel those frightened stadium rock conspiracy theories and ptobably make James split up. I love it. Single Of The Week in any 'normal' week.
James Dean Bradfield: Fuckin' hell! 'Don't You Forget About Me'! First of all they were a second generation Smiths, now they're fourth generation Pomp! They're more retrogressive than us!
Richey Edwards: When I think of James I think of lying in a field at Womad, 1983, vegetarian burgers, pissing in the rain, being sick, watching the worst live band Id ever seen in my entire life on stage, and realising I was never ever going to a festival ever again. Biggest piece of shit I've ever heard. I didn't know New Age Hippies were supposed to get frustrated.
James Dean Bradfield: I thought he'd reconciled everything within himself.
EUROPE: I'll Cry For You
James Dean Bradfield: My friend really likes this.
Andrew Collins: My friend doesn't. 'I'll Cry For You' - taken from the 'Prisoners In Paradise'LP - treads in all the government regulation Power Ballad footsteps, print for print, and it does so wearing knee-high cowboy boots that have to be surgically cut off when you've finished with them. 1992 is Europe's year, apparently, I obviously missed that meeting.
Richey Edwards: (Sings) "Johnny came home from the factor-eeee". Now we know where Loz nicked his voice from!
Andrew Collins: I'd hate to be the drummer in one of these bands, thump thump thump.
Richey Edwards: That's the best thing you can do! Keith Moon ruined drums.
James Dean Bradfield: Best ever impersonation I've heard of Brian May, really good. I'm serious. My friend loves 'em, they mean a lot to him, he's got a really shit job, more inspiring than all the other shit stuff so far.
CHIC: Chic Mystique
Andrew Collins: Like the Tomorrow People of fun, Chic have 'jaunted into the '90s, almost intact (i.e., no masterful Tony Thompson), to turn Techno back into disco, by way of horns, decent singing, and bassline that actually changes once or twice. Try to mock Nile and pals by saying they sound retro, and they will laugh in your face with perfumed breath.
Richey Edwards: I remember Chic annoying me when they were in the Top 40.
Andrew Collins: Ah well.
SINGLE OF THE WEEK
TEENAGE FANCLUB: What You Do To Me
Andrew Collins: Ah yes, as Harold Macmillan said in 1963, "I have never found that criticism Is ever inhibited by ignorance" And with that arbitrary and contrived quote, I hand my job over to Richey and James, upon whom pretence is never lost. Dressed practically for the task (shades, foundation, Sunday best blouses, team of grape-peeling rock chick lovelies on hand etc), they steam in with what may be a shock result for Teenage Fandub.
Richey Edwards: I fuckin' love 'em.
James Dean Bradfield: They're the only group around with a real authenticity to them. I don't mind plaglarism in any form, and it's obvious they now what they're doing. They contradict everything we're about really, but I can never dislike them. This sounds like Slade and The Rolling Stones with Scott Walker vocals.
Richey Edwards: They understand that the past is always gonna be more beautiful than the present. they've gone back to records which they love, which is what we've done.
James Dean Bradfield: They do it 'cos they love it and never pretend anything else. They look good without even trying.
Andrew Collins: Dear me, it's all doom, despondency and knocking with these Manic Street Preachers, isn't it? Truly, 'What You Do To Me'is the third best track on 'Bandwagonesque' and perhaps the only one which supports my wafer thin theory about TFC being the new ELO. There's something about it, got me down on my knees alright. I suspect the Manics'endorsement will surprise the preconception mob, as if that's any kind of victory.
James Dean Bradfield: We don't adhere to our own guidelines all the time! We just naturally like this group.
CATHERINE WHEEL: Balloon
Andrew Collins: There is definitely something to grab hold of here as we float away from the wreckage of 1991. Catherine Wheel may be anomynous and confused from Great Yarmouth, but there is substance to their guitar-based swirl, something distinctly ROCK, the merest hint of Goth even. I think it was TS Eliot who wote "Only the fool, fixed in his folly, may think he can turn the wheel on which he turns".
James Dean Bradfield: That's white people at their worst, just feeling sorry for themselves.
Richey Edwards: I'm glad bands like that exist. We've got to have some sort of amusement. They're the saddest people, even sadder than us, the sort of people who think The Beach Boys are good at harmonies.
CREDIT TOTHE NATION: Pay The Price
Andrew Collins: Frightening. A bloke called MC Fusion claiming to be "the black Dennis The Menace" (What? Two dimensionaland NOT REAL?), gathering up all his best street-informed bile and contempt and then directing it at -wait for it- Vanilla Ice! Run for your lives! A comedy rap record that takes itself seriously - nothing worse.
James Dean Bradfield: Probably the best rapper to come out of Britain I've ever heard (He's not joking). Just sounds like a stream of consciousness. Then again, why is he singing about Vanilla Ice?
Richey Edwards: Is Dennis The Menace on IPC?
TORI AMOS: China
Richey Edwards: You may as well lump Tori Amos in with They Might Be Giants. Music for A-level English students. She's fuckeded up, or at least she thinks she is. She's confused. She's got a lot of guilt. Drunk a lot of coffee. Makes you realise that Beverley Craven's a good songwriter. Got any pictures of Danny Kelly's Vauxhall 1100 lying round here? I've read a lot about it, I've always wanted to see it.
Andrew Collins: No, sorry. Back to Tori, this year's flouncy American nutter lady, small-time famous already for being small-time famous, really. This is a poor single choice, slow and minimal, Enya with no knobs on,
James Dean Bradfield: For Vox readers only.
Richey Edwards: At least Kate Bush could dance as well!
Andrew Collins: Press release of the week! Instead of telling us what formats the record's available on and when they're playing Leicester, Catwalk supply a novella about (wow) walking the cat and "gorging on fin-de-siècle malaise", penned presumably by Chris Roberts himself, well-known good writer and now absolutely crap maker of music. Doesn't it matter that Roberts is an A&R man for Dedicated and therefore signed himself? Or is that punk? Wants to be a '90s Marc Bolan; is more like Mark Shaw.
James Dean Bradfield: Sounds like Steve Nieve & The Playboys for indie kids. I bet he liked Shriekback.
Richey Edwards: One of my favourite ever journalists, one of the worst records I've ever heard.
URBAN DANCE SQUAD: Bureaucrat Of Flacco Street
Andrew Collins: Oh thank you, Alan Coren, for my next Manics-style supplementary quote "The Dutch fall into two distinct physical types, the small, corpulent, red-faced Edams, and the thinner paler, larger Goudas. " Enough sick bouigeois xenophobia, though, these Dutchmen are all up for proving that there is a bit of everything in their musical masterplan. Unfortunately, it sounds as dull as fuck.
James Dean Bradfield: I don't wanna listen to this.
(At this point, they attempt some sort of coup, and dispose of current single under review, replacing it with a copy of Skid Row's 'Monkey Business' which the have found. Rock and, indeed, roll.)
SHUT UP AND DANCE: The Green Man/Autobiography Of A Crack Head
(Shut Up Arid Dance)
As Gertrude Stein said in her autobiography, "Dance and war are the same because one can see them. That is what they are there for." Nice one. Shut Up And Dance have cracked it this week, 'Green Man ' is a fabulous top-speed big rave instrumental that incorporates an unknown orchestral TV theme, we think. Perhaps it's from BBC's recent drama The Green Man. Let's hope they don't intervene if it is, since this is stirring, simple stuff that begs a chart position. The 'flip' contains angered, un-obvious rapping about the obvious, also worth your pricked ears. James has the whole thing sussed.
James Dean Bradfield: If they'd fused the music from the A-side with the lyrics and title of the B, I'd have made it Single Of The Week.
Richey Edwards: I don't understand the music unless they put lyrics on, that's why Public Enemy are so great.
PM DAWN: Reality Used To Be A Friend Of Mine
DEFINITION OF SOUND: Moira Jane's Cafe
Andrew Collins: Two major let-downs in a world of, well, even more let-downs. The PM Dawn trackhas been carefully remixed by CJ Macintosh to alienate big PM Dawn fans and ensure that it won't get in the charts. Definition Of Sound can never recreate the untamed joy that was 'Wear Your Love Like Heaven' and in these harsh times they bloody need to.
Richey Edwards: I like the PM Dawn title, but you can't allow yourself to listen to records by fat people.
James Dean Bradfield: Except for Teenage Fanclub.
Richey Edwards: Definition Of Sound's worst single.
James Dean Bradfield: Definitely an industry band.
CHUMBAWAMBA: I Never Gave Up
James Dean Bradfield: I tried. We tried reeeally hard to like Chumbawamba, in the doldrums of '84.
Richey Edwards: Couldn't do it.
James Dean Bradfield: Where's the toilets round here?
Andrew Collins: Oh Lord. The Bollock Brothers, stolen Teardrop Explodes harmonies, a stolen U2 break, theploddo end of Theatre Of Hate's technique spectrum - and that's just the music. Rubbish. The politics, of course, are superb, helpful and all Chumbawamba's own work. Well done. The press release explains that "it's a Northern thing", What? Thinking you're fantastic all the time and coming down here and nicking our jobs?
James Dean Bradfield: Sounds like 'White Rabbit' when she sings. It's just crap. Nothing will ever nag away at the back of their minds, they'll just realise that nobody ever knew who they were and be happy with themselves. It's a different kind of happiness, I suppose, but I don't want it. "The whole world's turmoil is but a reflection of the anarchy in your own heart"- H Granville Barker, says it all really.
MEGA CITY FOUR: Stop
Andrew Collins: Listen! Quite how those clodhopping Steptoes, the Senseless Things, beat MC4 into the Top 2O is beyond my ken. Let's not turn this into a war, right, but THE MEGAS COULD HAVE THE 'THINGS' ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. Armed with a recently-realised knack for guitar tune pop fun, plus some loaded joss-sticks if things get hairy, they have worked out all the answers. 'Stop' is not my fave gem from the soon-come LP 'Sebastopol Road', but it demonstrates just how wily and commercial the Transit-tykes can be. I fear the Prophets Of Rage are less than with me on this one...
Richey Edwards: The words really annoy me - "Nobody's ever cared about me, so why should I care about anyone else?" New Age hippy bullshit.
James Dean Bradfield: I tried to work out about a year ago if Mega City Four were worth hating. And they're not really. Can't put that much energy into it. They always sound so melancholy all the time, like they're suffering from the vapours or something!
Richey Edwards: For a band who were only ever going to put out seven-inch singles and never sign to a major, they're doing a pretty goodjob. And they never get criticised for it!
James Dean Bradfield: They could find themselves part of the new groundswell indie Top 40 revolution with this track.
Richey Edwards: There's more things you can concentrate on than writing a good tune.
James Dean Bradfield: Fuck 'em!
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: The Statue Got Me High
Andrew Collins: Why do so many of my colleagues see They Might Be Giants as some sort of disease to which that old line about them being "too clever" is the cure? Was Bob Dylan the class thicko, then? Did Scott Walker have trouble speaking on the phone and chewing gum at the same time? Is being STUPID a cool teen pose? TMBG are "clever" enough to get their hair cut once in a while and to use their now-international corporate status to carry on making funny and twisted busking anthems for their mates, the thinking classes. This newie is a frantic charge through the corridors of cabaret power punk and it bounces, pinball-like, off the wall. Not their very, very best.
James Dean Bradfield: I have an image of students who've dropped out. Quirky time-changes and that, it just sounds like The Cardiacs. I hate any kind of humour in music whatsoever.
Richey Edwards: Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy.
70 GWEN PARTY: The Psycho Beat
Andrew Collins: The only truly revolutionary record of the week, 70 Gwen Party's offering comes in a dire 10p sleeve with a photo of a dead, mauled, post-hunt fox on it. The music inside is genuinely scary, all electronic beat and ghoulish Goth chords.
James Dean Bradfield: If they had a bit more money, I think it'd be a brilliant record.
Richey Edwards: That pissed over bands like Chapterhouse and Lush who think they do 'sonic noise', yet never see 'em mentioned anywhere, and all they've got is a photocopied bit of paper for a sleeve. Reminds me a bit too much of Flux Of Pink Indians.
James Dean Bradfield: That descending chord sounds like 'Rain Song' by Led Zeppelin.
Richey Edwards: If labels like Dedicated or Hut were true to their authenticity they wouldn't be so worried about fashion, and they'd sign bands like this. But since they haven't, send £2.00 to Snape Records, 24 Inverness Road, Hounslow, Middlesex TW3 3LE, and start the revolution.
SILVERFISH: Silverfish With Scrambled Eggs EP
Andrew Collins: Hey, great sleeve!A well-executed Chinese food-packaging pastiche. Unfortunately, we connoisseurs of cleverness luck out beyond the cardboard. The disc within (main track seems to be 'Crazy') is pure 1983 Clarendon psychobilly, conjuring the smell of hot armpits and the consistency of flour and lager paste. The fact that they've got a 'striking ' girl singer who looks/sounds like a bloke is not enough to carry them into the annals of greatness.
Richey Edwards: The best argument I've ever heard for censorship. People like that should not have access to making records.
James Dean Bradfield: Stomping at the KIub Foot! R: I hate scrambled eggs.
THE BLESSING: Highway 5
Andrew Collins: Hurrah! We have found the World's Worst Band! More depressing than Wet Wet Wet, Guns N' Roses, Revolver, Tracey Chapman and The Levellers all rolled into a supergroup. When The Blessing played 'Light My Fire' on Jonathan Ross last year, a part of me died.
Richey Edwards: The ultimate A&R man's wet dream, the perfect band that getsigned up year after year, total fucking shit.
James Dean Bradfield: The kind of song that makes you wanna reach for the sky. He is joking. I think.
SULTANS OF PING FC: Where's Me Jumper?
Andrew Collins: And I thought I was a big Fall fan! The tinpot drum intro, the "My brother knows Karl Marx" first line, the Half Man Half Biscuit vocal oeuvre, that
'Totally Wired'squeeeeeal! It's about as self-conscious as a record can be, and if it doesn't want comparing directly to Mark E's mob, then it shouldn't be such an uncomfortably close, brown-nosed homage. I shift in my seat, I squirm, I blush, it's that sort of experience. As Tom Stoppard wrote, "Nothing sounds more studied than a repeated spontaneity".
James Dean Bradfield: It just sounds like'The Birdie Song' for progressive students to me. It reminds me of being 14, 15, and sending off for mail order records in poxy plastic bags and thinking it was so coot. Just terrible.
Richey Edwards: Perverted by language. A good example of what speed does to your brain.