Archive | Classic Albums

The B-52’s – Good Stuff (1992)

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The B-52’s – Good Stuff (1992)

Posted on 12 April 2021 by Joe

We resume our album-by-album The B-52’s retrospective with a look at Good Stuff, their 1992 follow up to the huge success of Cosmic Thing.

This was at a time when singer Cindy Wilson decided to take a break from the band and they were carrying on as trio of Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland and Kate Pierson.

Live Julee Cruise replaced Cindy Wilson. A fine stand in, but there’s only one Cindy Wilson with her unique southern states emotional style of singing. It is their only album not to feature Cindy.

Despite their obvious mainstream appeal, they were still being pigeonholed as ‘New Wave’ and ‘alternative’. Incidentally, Good Stuff was nominated for a best alternative album Grammy – eventually losing out to Tom Waits’ Bone Machine.

Cindy, Kate and Fred work perfectly as vocalists. But take one away and its not the same. Therein lies the problem with Good Stuff.

The Tracks

Tell It Live It T-I-Is is bland rock and roll, although Kate’s vocals are great. Hot Pants Explosion is just plain stupid, rather than cool-stupid.

As with their previous album Nile Rodgers and Don Was once again share half the tracks each and the title track is perfect for one of their own albums but falls flat here.

There’s a bit of politics (to be said in a Ben Elton 80s voice) here referencing their own activism, on gay rights, Aids awareness and the environment. Revolution Earth sums this up and ends up being the highlight. Great melody and Pierson again excels. How good would this have been with Cindy too!?

The same can be said of Dreamland. It clocks in at more than seven minutes and sounds great, featuring Strickland’s increasing influences of Buddhism and meditation. Turns out his was a hippy all along. Also, Pierson carries its trance like funk along well. Once again, with Cindy involved this could have been one of The B-52’s career highlights.  

For Pierson fans this album is a must. Vision of a Kiss features another strong  Kate performance, as does Breezin’.

There’s a nod to their earlier days with live favourite Is That You Mo Dean? given a run out. Ends up a bit of a filler track though.

Despite some less than stellar offerings, there’s a lot to like here, some great songs and its got a nice laid back feel to it too.

But without Cindy Wilson there’s a vital cog to their machine missing.

By Joe Lepper

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The B-52’s – Bouncing off the Satellites (1986)

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The B-52’s – Bouncing off the Satellites (1986)

Posted on 05 April 2021 by Joe

Here’s the sad part. Not the next B-52’s album – Bouncing off the Satellites – that we are focusing on over recent weeks.  That’s full of excellent tracks. It’s the story behind it.

Guitarist Ricky Wilson tragically died after the album was completed and prior to its release.

He was one of the many young brilliant men that succumbed to Aids during the 1980s. His guitar playing and song writing were becoming more assured. He had already invented his own tuning and riffed his way through the previous decade or so. But it was to be no more.

Bouncing off the Satellites was in the can and it is full of commercially pop savvy numbers, including upbeat tracks moving into the realms of dance and club music with Girl from Impanema Goes to Greenland, Summer of Love and the ridiculously silly Wig.

Tony Mansfield was on production duties for this one. That may explain why it sounds so radio friendly for a mid to late 80s audience. His credits include Aha’s Hunting High and Low.

But with the band too shocked to tour and promotional appearances limited it failed to make an impact on the charts or the media. According to Pierson, Wilson even kept his illness secret from his band mates. They pretty much disappeared as a band, with Ricky’s sister Cindy particularly affected. They would not come back together for another two years.

This was the first B-52’s album I bought when it came out and it will always be tinged with sadness due to Wilson’s death.

It’s almost as if the songs become sadder knowing about his death. But there are also some beautiful ballads on here, which are the ones I still listen to most regularly.

 

Ain’t it a Shame is a beautifully sad Cindy Wilson number, co-written with her brother and drummer Keith Strickland.

Coincidentally another of my other favourites is She Brakes for Rainbows, also featuring Strickland on writing duties, this time with just Ricky.

The band will need Strickland’s increasingly strong ear for a good tune when they convene again for their next release.

Elsewhere on the album, Theme for a Nude Beach is stupid but strong and I have a soft spot for Detour Thru Your Mind.

The fillers are from Pierson and Schneider respectively, who supplied solo tracks they’d been working on. Of the two Pierson’s Housework is the best. Schneider’s Juicy Jungle feels a little out of place – too solo.

There is some strong music here and makes me wonder what would have become of the band if Ricky was still alive.

**Cindy and her son Nolan recently shared this wonderful clip of them playing She Brakes For Rainbows in her living room from last year. This is one of the great comments that sums up her singing style – “I love the place Cindy goes to as she sings”. I think she always thinks of Ricky when she sings this.**

By Joe Lepper

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The B-52’s – Whammy! (1983)

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The B-52’s – Whammy! (1983)

Posted on 29 March 2021 by Joe

Drum machines and a greater use of synthesizers should make Whammy! a very different sounding The B-52’s album from their Duane Eddy riffed opening two albums and the largely dour David Byrne mis-step with Mesopotamia.

But even with smart 80s tech deployed, it actually marks a comforting return to their fun, live roots, which propelled them to acclaim back in 1978.

The songs are fun and the drum machines and synths work well with Cindy, Kate and Fred’s vocals.

The album also features three songs that were originally planned for Mesopotamia, Butterbean, Big Bird and one of my highlights Queen of Las Vegas, a crime thriller  script of a track from Cindy.

The highlight of the album for me and arguably across all their albums is Song for a Future Generation, featuring all five band members in a wonderful 80s version of the likes of Tinder and other dating apps. Who doesn’t warm to drummer Keith wanting to find the “essence from within”?

There’s more here. Another crime focused track in Legal Tender and in Whammy Kiss the band developed a staple live classic.

There’s another of my favourites by the band in Trism. It’s a great pop track but also shows how inventive and eclectic Ricky Wilson’s guitar work was becoming. The 50s twang was being expanded into FM friendly riffs and licks. What a talent he was.

There is a difference from the original release, which featured a cover of Yoko Ono’s Don’t Worry, Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow).

Legal issues, however, saw this removed on later  pressings and replaced by Moon 83, a synthed up 80s version of There’s a Moon in the Sky (Called the Moon). A filler track, but one with merit.

The Tracks

 

 

The departure in sound here could have gone array. But thanks to production from Steven Stanley it sounds fresh and fun and I challenge anyone not to at least smile during Song for a Future Generation. Stanley’s other credits include Tom Tom Club, Black Uhuru and Grace Jones.

Keith takes additional guitar and keyboard credits on this album. Remember that guitar credit for a couple of albums down the line. Also note Ricky’s expanded guitar work here.

By Joe Lepper

 

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The B-52’s – Mesopotamia (1982)

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The B-52’s – Mesopotamia (1982)

Posted on 22 March 2021 by Joe

Half-finished album? EP? Mini-album? Call it what you will it, but Mesopotamia deserves its own place in the history of The B-52’s album releases.

It was planned as the band’s third full album with David Byrne at the helm no less. He seemed the right fit for a band that was regularly on the same touring circuit and bill as Talking Heads. They knew and respected Byrne and vice-versa.

But it didn’t quite go to plan. Byrne was also recording The Catherine Wheel, which he worked on by day, while recording with the B-52’s at night.

This schedule can’t have been good for anyone involved.

Whether lack of sleep or not quite understanding The B-52’s, Byrne’s mix of the album was not what the band were after. Too flat, too sad in places. Perhaps he was half asleep?

As a result, it was cut short and released as a six track collection, with three of four abandoned songs later to resurface in the far more commercially savvy next album Whammy, but more of that tomorrow.

Island didn’t help either, shunning the band’s choices of more upbeat tracks and instead going for filler songs.

The tracks

Across the six tracks here, half are good and half are a misstep. Loveland, with Cindy Wilson on vocals, followed by Deep Sleep, with Kate Pierson taking turns behind the mic, are as lacklustre an opening two tracks as you can get.

It picks up significantly with the title track, with Fred Schneider’s much needed enthusiasm making it a real highlight. Cake is a track I’ve warmed to, but the mix feels too flat for me. It ends on a high though with Throw That Beat in the Garbage Can and this mini-album’s best track Nip It in the Bud. Cindy is on fine form here.

The tracks that later emerge on Whammy are all perfect for that release.  More on that tomorrow. I’m glad they were left off Mesopotamia and away from Byrne’s tired controls.

You may love some of the tracks I haven’t warmed to and hate the ones I like, but time and again it is Mesopotamia and Nip it in the Bud that I come back to from this.

Next week, a drum machine and an album with one of, if not our favourite tracks by the band. It’ll help you find the essence from within!

By Joe Lepper

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The B-52’s -Wild Planet (1980)

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The B-52’s -Wild Planet (1980)

Posted on 15 March 2021 by Joe

Following the favourable global response to their debut album, The B-52’s were fast becoming one of Island’s biggest acts. For their second album slicker production was needed and Rhett Davies was brought in, with label boss Chris Blackwell moving to ‘executive producer’ duties.

Davies’ credits include albums by Genesis, Roxy Music, Robert Palmer, Brian Eno, Dire Straits and Talking Heads excellent More Songs About Buildings and Food. He was a big deal for The B-52’s.

The production may have been new and slicker, but a number of the tracks had been staples of their live act for a number of years. It has been reported that the Bs had some commercial acumen at the time, wanting to hold back some of the best live songs for their second album. With top 20 album positions in the UK and US in 1980, the combination of Davies and these five camp New Wavers from Athens clearly worked.

My take on the production? I actually prefer the original’s energy and agree with Rolling Stone’s review of the time saying that it sounded ‘flatter and duller’ than its predecessor.

The Tracks

Nevertheless, there are some great tracks here and the production is only flatter in comparison to their fantastic debut. It’s still a great sound.

I’m going straight into Cindy Wilson’s finest moment first – Give Me Back My Man. Remember Dance This Mess Around on the debut? This takes that raw pain and emotion and switches it up a gear. A woman pleading with her man’s new woman to give him up. It’s basically Dolly Parton and great Dolly Parton at that. In desperation she tells her man’s new woman that she’ll do anything even ‘give her fish, give her candy’. Now that’s love.

Private Idaho is another high point on Wild Planet. Ricky’s intro packs a punch. It was later used as the title song for Gus Van Sant’s 1991 film My Own Private Idaho. It’s in my top five The B-52’s tracks with the intro never failing to excite.

Among the live staple party tunes is Strobe Light, Quiche Lorraine and Party Out of Bounds.

As with Give My Back My Man there are some deeper, rawer tracks too with Dirty Back Road, perhaps the best of these.

While as an album it was a hit, single wise though Davies failed to deliver, with Private Idaho the best performer in the US at 74 in the Billboard charts, although the Aussies loved it, helping it reach 11 in the charts down under.

While good, the album lacked a little of the spark of their debut but is a great collection and made a classic by Give Me Back My Man and Idaho alone.

It didn’t quite capture their live energy though and to this day I still prefer the tracks live. Just check out this awesome 1980 live version of Give Me Back My Man.

How does David Byrne fare producing the band? Find out next week when we travel forward to 1982 and Mesopotamia.

by Joe Lepper

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The B-52’s -The B-52’s (1979)

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The B-52’s -The B-52’s (1979)

Posted on 08 March 2021 by Joe

It was some point in the mid-1980s that I first heard The B-52’s. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Rock Lobster from their eponymous 1979 debut album had just been re-released. The teenage me promptly bought the 12” at Brighton’s Virgin Megastore. With its smattering of great tracks from their next two albums, I’d found my new favourite band.

Still not a week goes by without a track from the band in my life.

Over the next eight weeks I’ll be guiding you through the array of albums from this New Wave outfit from Athens, Georgia, the US university town that has been blessed with creating three great bands: REM, Pylon and this bunch of 50s sci-fi, bee-hive wigged obsessed party-goers.

The B-52’s formed two years prior to this release, mainly for friends at parties. The band gradually grew in popularity, performing at legendary venues in New York such as CBGBs and then signed to Island, with the label’s founder Chris Blackwell producing their debut.

Blackwell wanted the album to recreate their live act as much as possible. This was a savvy move with each members’ particular talents allowed to shine here.

Here’s some wonderful black and white footage of the B-52s live in 1978 in Atlanta.

Before I discuss the tracks let’s meet the players.

On guitar is Ricky Wilson. Armed with his trusty Mosrite he had his own way of tuning his guitar to create a wholly unique science fiction surf sound, packed full of great riffs. Why is it tuned so differently? I think it may have been to suit the voice of this sister Cindy Wilson, who he formed the band with. Ricky was blessed with unique talent on the guitar, but as we will learn later in the immersion, it was a life cruelly cut short.

Cindy is the star for me. Her Georgia drawl and powerful voice gives many of the B-52’s tracks a real edge. So emotional. So raw.

Fellow singer, and keyboardist, Kate Pierson, is another great vocalist and then there’s a third too in Fred Schneider. Most bands are blessed with one great vocalist. The B’s had three! Fred talks and shouts mostly through the tracks, but his Georgia accent and odd lyrics strangely work, especially when combined with Cindy and Kate. A perfect blend.

Then there’s drummer Keith Strickland. He’s the one at the back who later in The B-52’s story arguably becomes the most talented and pop-savvy of them all. Once again. More on that later.

The tracks

Track time. Rock Lobster weighs in at a mighty 6:49 here. Live it keeps going, so Blackwell thought that should also be the case on the album.

Dance This Mess Around is the ultimate Cindy, Fred and Kate song here, where the pain of being a wallflower at the local dance for Cindy becomes unbearably real. This is the track where I knew the B-52s had far more to them than being just a party band.

There’s more from Cindy’s incredible vocals on Hero Worship and Lava. And on 52 Girls the simple naming of Miss America contenders through Cindy and Kate’s southern tones gets under the skin of a beauty pageant, like Harry Crews reporting on proceedings, as Betty, Brenda and the other gals are lowered into a pit of snakes while a circus freakshow passes.

Fred and Kate take vocal duties on mysterious ‘50s B Movie space oddity Planet Claire, and there’s even a chance for a cover of Tony Hatch’s Downtown.

There’s a couple of filler tracks but they more than make up the numbers. There’s merit in each of 6060-842 and There’s a Moon in the Sky.

This is the first in a series of reviews looking at the career in albums of some of our favourite acts.

By Joe Lepper

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The B-52’s kick off our look back at bands’ complete discographies

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The B-52’s kick off our look back at bands’ complete discographies

Posted on 04 March 2021 by Joe

Over the next eight weeks, every Monday morning (9:00am UK time), we are going to look back on the complete back catalogue of albums by some of our favourite bands and artists.

First up we will give our take on the eight album run spanning four decades of The B-52’s. This starts next week (March 8) with their 1979 self titled debut and finishes in May with their most recent album, 2008’s Funplex.

See you next week for our look at The B-52’s complete discography!

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Top 10 – 1987

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Top 10 – 1987

Posted on 02 December 2017 by Dorian

This year is the 30th anniversary of 1987. This isn’t a year that typically gets identified as being a particularly important one for music, but it was an important one for this young indie fan. Aged 15 I’d just started to develop my own taste and, for the first time, had some income that I could use to buy records with.

One year after NME’s legendary C86 cassette we were starting to see bands from that “scene” bringing out albums and breaking (to some extent) into the mainstream. For me it was a wonderful time to discover music and I still own most of the records I purchased at that age.

This top 10 may not be the definitive best songs of 1987, brilliant records by The Smiths, Prince, Hüsker Dü, Julian Cope, Big Black, Sonic Youth, The Go-Betweens, Dinosaur Jr, New Order, The Pixies and more came out that year, but it is a reflection of my experience of music at the time.

10.  The Soup Dragons – Can’t Take No More

The Soup Dragons aren’t well-remembered, and when they are it is seldom for this song, but I have a great fondness for this record. The mix of British guitar jangle pop, and a fast paced fuzziness, is what defines this era for me and I think this is a bit of a lost classic.

9.  Pailhead – I Will Refuse

The partnership of former Minor Threat Ian MacKaye and Revolting Cock Al Jourgensen seems a bit of an odd one in retrospect, but together they produced a pretty amazing noise for a couple of EPs. This song is the best of the bunch. Play loud.

8.  The Dukes of the Stratosphere – You’re My Drug

I don’t know if it is true or apocryphal but the story goes that XTC were so out of fashion by the late 80s that even their records as a fictional 60s psychedelia band sold better than their “real” records. This song is so authentically produced that you could forgive someone for thinking they were a genuine lost act of the flower-power era.

7.  Age of Chance – Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Noise

A sound they called “sonic metal disco” and a penchant for cycling gear wasn’t enough to give the Age of Chance much of a career. However, their debut album was pretty unique and spawned some genuinely excellent singles. This is one of them.

 6.  Voice of the Beehive – I Say Nothing

This list is a bit of an (unintentional) “where are they now?” and Voice of the Beehive are another forgotten act. I think that this single was brilliant but I admit that them being my first ever gig may be a factor in this choice.

5.  The Sugarcubes – Birthday

I loved the Chart Show. I loved it most when the indie chart was the specialist chart for the week (oh, the disappointment of heavy metal or dance) and seeing this song in that chart was an eye opener. Even now I still have no idea exactly how the song is constructed as a variety of clashing melodies compete for attention behind Bjork’s unmistakable vocal performance.

4.  They Might Be Giants – Don’t Let’s Start

They Might Be Giants are too often dismissed as a comedy or novelty act. This assessment misses just what a creative and unique pop band they are. This is great and kick-started a long time love for the band.

3.  The Wedding Present – My Favourite Dress

The Wedding Present would be number 1 in an album chart for 1987, the album George Best is still a treasured part of my vinyl collection. There are so many great tracks that I could pick, but this single from the album just about takes pride of place.

2.  That Petrol Emotion – Genius Move

That Petrol Emotion are a band that deserve more of a place in musical history. Formed by The Undertones’ O’Neill brothers they released five excellent albums in a seven-year career. This single is among my favourites of their many excellent songs and gets the nod here as it is not available (to my knowledge) in any format. Spotify has a version on the band’s posthumous live album,  but nothing beats the original single which lives on via YouTube.

1. Faith No More – We Care A Lot

This song would have always been in this chart, but the recent sad death of Chuck Mosley and a nostalgia filled revisiting of the video may have pushed it up a place or two. It is a great single, completely unique, and worthy of a number 1 spot. RIP Chuck.

What songs would you pick as your best of 1987? If you are apoplectic that I haven’t selected ‘True Faith’, or have a love for something from Sinitta’s debut album, please post your choices below.

Compiled by Dorian Rogers

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Bevis Frond Reissues – It Just Is, Sprawl and Superseeder

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Bevis Frond Reissues – It Just Is, Sprawl and Superseeder

Posted on 17 October 2016 by John Haylock

Apologies in advance if Neonfiller looks to be turning into the fan page for all things Bevis Frond. Don’t blame us, its the fault of the band’s founder Nick Saloman for being so bloody prolific.

Already over the last year or so we’ve reviewed five reissues from Saloman and co and next up is three more, moving us into the mid 1990s.

Given the rate he released records in that decade it begs the questions: did he ever get the urge to nip out for a beer or a packet of chocolate digestives? Or was he permanently plugged in to some antiquated amps in his bedroom, forever channeling his guitar heroes on a diet of Red Bull and fried egg sandwiches?

it-just-is

There’s a classic 1961 Tony Hancock film called The Rebel in which he plays a frustrated artist, living in a small apartment surrounded by his artistic creations, including a huge half finished marble sculpture. His long suffering landlady is the wonderful Irene Handl, who is forever knocking on his door or banging on the ceiling telling him to be quiet. Whenever I think of Bevis Frond’s Nick I envisage his mum in the Irene Handl role, banging on the ceiling with a broom handle shouting ‘turn that bloody row down’.

Here then are the next tranche of reissues from Fire Records, with spunking guitars to the fore, bleeding fingers, rock ‘n’ roll introspection and dour doom a go-go. There are no radical departures from previous releases, no sudden synth pop, no choral interludes. This is steady as she goes, left hand down a bit, homegrown Nutsville solos with the occasional light acoustic break amongst the all consuming rifferama.

It Just Is (1993) is a good solid rock album but a little claustrophobic. Eighteen tracks and no particularly lengthy workouts on this one, with most songs averaging four minutes.

Financial constraints necessitated Saloman plays almost all instruments and sadly at least for this listener it is bereft of a certain unhinged quality that we’ve come to expect from Bevis Frond. It lacks the variety of other releases and just batters you repeatedly with a guitar palette that lacks bright colours. Yet it does have its redeeming factors, including the fabulous slow burning blues of Idiot Dance, and an angry and sardonic rocker called Desperate.

For what is basically a one man operation It Just Is is pretty nifty in a kind of Metallica meets Billy Corgan up a dark alley kind of way, but compared to Bevis Frond’s other numerous releases it’s a bit of a let down.

sprawl

Sprawl (1994 ) does exactly what it says on the tin. A massive double Bevis Frond album of sprawling rock tunes and budget constrained invention, now fleshed out with contributions from Andy Ward on drums, Tony Aldridge on violin, Jimmy Hastings on flute and David Tibet on vocals.

Central to the album is Right On (Hippie Dream) a mammoth exercise in sonic landscaping and around which all the other tracks orbit. It is one of Saloman’s finest audio concoctions.

This sonic mantra emerges as a  slowly unfurling freakout, clocking in at over 20 minutes and featuring backward guitars, flutes, spoken interludes; everything but the kitchen sink basically. Although, I’m sure there’s probably a mix out there with the kitchen sink still on it.

There’s also Innerwheel, a lovely slice of eastern tinged exotica, with flutes and bongos and meandering keyboards in the mix. There’s also 41 Years, a mellow-yellow, wry reflection on the ageing process.

I bought My Love A Lap Dog is a cracking stop start rocker from the top drawer.

Other memorable work outs include Love You More, Boa Constrictor and the fabulously dour The Puller. With no less than eight extra tracks on cd 2 this makes Sprawl another must buy.

superseeder

Finally, there is Superseeder (1995), which is housed in a distinctive sleeve made by Nick from an assortment of seeds from his local pet store. This album is a giant in the back catalogue, supplemented by long-time colleagues Ade Shaw on bass and Andy Ward on drums, with the obligatory in store guest appearance from Bari Watts on two tracks.

It starts as it means to go on with the ten-minute plus rocker Superseded, a track with an Eastern feel and bulldozing momentum. Then there’s Dolly Bug, which rattles along in a most pleasing punkish way, Stoned Train Driver on the other hand takes the tempo down a bit with a bluesy feel and some great locomotive based wordage.

I absolutely love the domestic fear and self loathing of the lyrics on Animal Tracks – think of Lou Reed but born in Walthamstow.

I Can’t Cry features some astonishing lead guitar work from the aforementioned Mr Watts and is a tremendous slice of rock action.

Loveland and Golden Walks of London maintain the quality work, although there’s a 16-minute studio jam called House of Mountains, which is around 14 minutes too long.  But this is a minor complaint as Superseeder contains a most wistful closing song called Could You Fly Higher, featuring an achingly beautifully concise guitar coda.

Superseeder would make a good entry point for the Bevis novice. Watch out for the next reissues, which is set to include Son of Walter. If you think I’m an over zealous fawning idiot fan, just wait until you hear what I have to say about that masterpiece.

For more information about Bevis Frond click here.

By John Haylock

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Levitation – Meanwhile Gardens

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Levitation – Meanwhile Gardens

Posted on 28 September 2015 by Joe

Levitation’s time was brief, beautiful and ended in acrimony, with its front man announcing his departure live on stage.

Back in 1992 the band, formed by former House of Love man Terry Bickers just two years earlier, was seemingly destined for a long and fruitful career. Their blend of psychedelic rock, with a keen focus on melody, was beautifully presented on their debut release Need for Not.

But ,with its follow up album Meanwhile Gardens completed and their live following growing, Bickers announced he was leaving. What’s more he made the announcement on stage at Tufnell Park Dome in North London in May 1993 during one of the band’s gigs. A disillusionment with the music was a key factor at the time, although later depression was cited as a major reason.

levitationcover

The band carried on for a brief time, drafting in Steve Ludwin from Some Have Fins to replace Bickers. They also remixed Bickers out of Meanwhile Gardens, which only managed an Australian release. But without Bickers, who at the time was very well respected among alternative and indie music fans for his time in House of Love, their time was over.

Three of the remaining members, guitarist Christian Hayes, drummer David Francolini and bassist Laurence O’Keefe regrouped in 1996, minus keyboardist Robert White, as Dark Star. But that too was a short lived project.

All this time the original Meanwhile Gardens was still sitting on a shelf. An aborted attempt to release it in 2007 through their label Rough Trade came to nothing after it went bust and Beggars Banguet who snapped it up were not keen on revisiting the band’s place in 1990s UK music.

Now for the first time the album is to get its long awaited release in its original form.

So all these years on how does it sound? In short, bigger and bolder than their original but still with an edge. The guitars are a huge factor, dated in places with their chorus effect, but wonderfully laid out, especially on the album’s centrepiece epic Even When Your Eyes Are Open.

Gardens Overflowing is another of many highlights with the era’s wall of distortion, with melody weaving around it, in full flow. There are elements of other bands of the era, Ride and Swervedriver in particular as well as Julian Cope’s increasingly experimental solo work, but with much more of a psychedelic focus.

Evergreen perhaps hints of an emerging sound, something more like a shoe gaze Talk Talk, which could have been a successful direction, especially in America.

Listening to it now it seems odd that Bickers felt this was the work of a band that had lost its way. It seems very focused, with nods to their debut album and hints of the future. A perfect second album. But if depression was at play then it is perhaps understandable that Bickers couldn’t see the positives of the band at the time.

So who will be interested? For starters us lot who were big fans of Levitation in their brief heyday. But we think this should also appeal to a younger audience too, keen to earn hipster points for knowing about one of the 1990s alternative UK music scene’s lesser known, but arguably better acts.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

Meanwhile Gardens is released on October 23rd by Flashback Records.

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