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Welsh And French Interlopers Turn Vintage American Pop Into Fast Food

As redundant sequels by one-joke bores go, Bande à Part is duller than Hooked on Classics 3. The premise—samba covers of Reagan-era college AOR—fails because most of the albums in that genre sounded like lounge pop anyway. Whoever sings the mewling massacre of Yazoo’s “Don’t Go” sounds like Faster Pussycat’s Taime Downe after a curb stomp. Jim Morrison gets more visitors than any living Parisian but that’s no reason for the French to keep trying to revive Echo & the Bunnymen. (The Heaven 17 one isn’t bad, though.) Chipmunk Punk‘s greatness wasn’t dependent on Alvin etc.’s unusual range and technique, but some of that might make Nouvelle Vague’s music minimally interesting. Charlotte Church is a classically trained Welsh person like John Cale, even though the album title is a Lou Reed one-liner. Currently famous in the U.K. for a commercial in which she lies on a sofa eating potato chips, she’d probably be found next covering “Animal Language” and doing onstage Santeria with a bucket of KFC. Charlotte’s album has been out forever and is probably impossible to find anyway, but nobody cares about that when it comes to classical music. Look at Metal Machine Music. Dave Queen

Nouvelle Vague play Webster Hall Tuesday at 8, $25, bowerypresents.com.

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CULTURE ARCHIVES Living MUSIC ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

Rockafeller Skanks and Immanentizing Canucks

New compilations from the unthinking man’s Bill Drummond and the Canadian Franz Ferdinand, who play wherever Molson is sold. Norman “Fatboy Slim” Tarantino was the bassist for Housemartins or Jamiroquai or somebody; as his solo style expanded on that band’s wistful median-walking (i.e., “indie”) rock, FBS remained an obscure cult failure, understood only by fanatical anti-rock extremists, some of whom were so deeply undercover that they are unaware to this day how great, and how like Mao’s hundred blooming flowers, is their rock hatred. Nazareth are mentioned by name on Sleep’s Dopesmoker, and their song “Vancouver Shakedown” is about immanentizing the eschaton. (Vancouver is in “BC”—government phone numbers there start with 666, and you can buy weed over the counter at McDonald’s.)

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CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

Anarchy Artifacts

Crass were an English rock band who promised to split up in 1984. They did. The idea might’ve come from a David Bowie song, as some band members had unfortunate backgrounds in the comparatively limp fields of theatre and literature, and their accents render their most furious diatribes depressingly hilarious: “They won’t fucking listen!” “Media coverage of Vietnam caused massive dissent in the U.S.A.!” And best of all, “And what if I told you to fuck off?” That last is Crass’s all-purpose answer to anyone who questions their vision of anarchist utopia with mundane quibbles, like if there was no law who would pick up the garbage or deliver pizza, etc. Point being, of course, that society as we know it would cease to exist, and that under the status quo, it’s not possible to envision what a post-revolutionary society would look like, and that it would very likely be uncomfortable for most people. Perhaps that’s true, but is that any reason for not smashing the system that enslaves and kills millions to ensure an endless supply of ’80s revivalists who play “punk-funk” that all sounds like a bad version of “My Sharona”? If underage supermodels can sing along to ubiquitous Au Pairs and Delta 5 jukebox selections, there’s no reason they can’t eventually get into this expeditiously recorded artifact—and rarity of rarities, their parents might not even like it. The Grateful Dead if they sounded like the skull logos looked, and if they were named Grace, Paul, Marty, Jorma, Jack, and Spencer Ramone.

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CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

Joey Division or Pearl Jam Band (You Decide) Resurrected

Founding keyboardist-songwriter Andrew Farriss met a wandering shaman one day in the inhospitable western Australian desert when their tour bus experienced mechanical problems on the way to the remote Mt. Goldsworthy mining colony where INXS were playing a six-day, three-set-daily residency. The manager who named INXS (alluding to both “inaccessibility” and a TV commercial for IXL [“I excel in everything I do”] Jam) later found God and went on walkabout for two years . Years after headlining an INXS show, Stuart Goddard’s career collapsed and he was arrested in a firearm incident. File With: Squeeze; Other Voices; Movement (New Order’s “Perfect Kiss” goes, “tonight I should have stayed at home, playing with my pleasure zone”; Switch‘s “Perfect Stranger” goes, “don’t let the bad world change you”); Back in Black (“Hell’s Bells” goes, “if good’s on the left then I’m stickin’ to the right”; Switch‘s “Devil’s Party” goes, “if we’re all right then tell who’s wrong”); The Net (first Little River Band album post–Glen Shorrock).

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CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

Agricultural Ravers and Poppers Smack Their Kiwi Up

Country music thrives under authoritarian governments. Explicitly politicized bands like Prodigy, KLF, and Stone Temple Pilots were massive in England in the early 1990s when farmers there invented mad cow disease by feeding their livestock MDMA. The only “law” the Prodigy would appear to respect would be agrarian communism of the Mao/Khmer Rouge variety, which is hardly worse than ghetto astrology like Sharia or a slave-owners’ circle jerk like the Constitution. “Smack My Bitch Up” rewrote “Stand By Your Man” for the Rural Sports Network, but the peasant uprising was crushed by the “law” of copyright, making Britain safe for boring rock bands who all sound like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The Finn Brothers’ native New Zealand was the first country to grant women the vote, usually a disaster because politicians get all Cabaret Voltaire and nag nag nag, making laws against speeding and smoking and smacking your bitch up. She Will is songs by the Brothers’ bands Split (“CSNY”) Enz and Crowded (“CSN”) House, plus some solo Tim, covered by antipodean women on their time off from smashing into you with their backpacks on the subway. Natalie Imbruglia is still hot and “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” is funnier when you consider that most people associate the maritime life with buggery and sex tourism. Absent from She Will: Madison Avenue, Kylie Minogue, Germaine Greer. Absent from Their Law: “Baby’s Got a Temper”.


Prodigy play Nokia Theatre March 22.

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CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

Dirty White Boy

Most new English records are the bastards of Mark E. Smith and Mark Knopfler, but there’s a bit of Moby Grape and Aerosmith on Down in Albion from ex-Libertines’ guitarist/singer Pete Doherty’s current full-time band. Though Big Audio Dynamite’s Mick Jones is the producer, there’s less double vision or head games here than you’d expect. “Can’t tell between death and glory”, runs the “Under Pressure”–hysterical power ballad “Fuck Forever,” then the descending guitar run at 3:38 reminds you that Sandy (Blue Oyster Cult) Pearlman produced Give ’em Enough Rope. “Sticks on Stones”, on which Jethro Tull’s Barriemore Barlow is credited on gong, is Sandinista! with more complicated vocals—a high-tech production technique makes every syllable appear to have been recorded at a different distance away from the microphone.

Former Primal Scream singer Kate Moss also appears—Doherty’s biggest scrap with nosebleed-altitude fame since exposing a nipple at the Super Bowl. His own vocals are Ian Hunter as Paul Westerberg’s Tin Machine replacement. (“8 Dead Boys”—oy vey, babys!) There’s a “Love Hangover” break in “32nd of December”, and even the post-punk track works—bands who cite Entertainment! and Metal Box really mean Joshua Tree and The King of Comedy OST, but “Pipedown” works in a Pogues kind of way.

Aside from the Loop-y Ride of “Up the Morning” (what the Boredoms have been trying to do ever since they discovered college radio, namely the Blur of “Sing” and “This Is a Low”) and an acoustic-reggae prison ballad, Down in Albion is a nonstop series of climactic riffs and free-associative commentary, Rocks (with more tempo changes) overlaid with a dark Night in the Ruts mood. The slight departure from the Libertines’ robotic precision may alienate those large sections of the U.K. public whose music choices consist mainly of ringtones, but Babyshambles still draw crowds that combine the best qualities of Deadheads and straight-edge. Pretty hot-blooded and urgent, for foreigners.

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CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

Country-and-Western Pioneers of Many Stripes Reissued Again at Last

Two of a kind: The local Welsh/German band Velvet Underground founded alt-country. They had scratchy fiddles and a rootsy Emmylou-type singer. Olivia Newton-John’s version of Nico founded “country” as heard on radio and television. She played the alien Sandy in The Guero Who Fell to Earth. Her most influential work is the “trilogy” (1978’s Totally Hot, 1981’s Physical, and 1985’s Soul Kiss), recorded in Berlin with Brian Eno.

“White Light/White Heat,” a song about meth, sparked the rural alt-country explosion, also every California motel room fire not started by Brian Wilson. Hardcore tweakers look like ’80s ONJ videos because those clothes have sufficiently “trickled down” the shit-stem to saturate the Salvation Army/dumpster demographic. Lou Reed was once a mental-hospital inmate, Newton-John a refugee from a former penal colony. The VU had a great guitar soloist (Lou Reed)—”I Heard Her Call My Name” ‘s only remote competition was Dr. Hook’s “Cover of the Rolling Stone.” ONJ’s guitarist John Farrar was like if Skunk Baxter were in Steely Dan.

If you buy gas station compilations then Sucking in the Seventies is your “banana album.” If “Hand of Fate” replaced “Fool to Cry,” it’d be your White Light/White Heat. Physical‘s title track posited a purely kinetic existence. Methamphetamine, by eliminating hunger and sleep, solves the problems of needing food and shelter, thus defeating capitalism. No depression.

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CULTURE ARCHIVES Living MUSIC ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

Metal Love and Canadian Complexes Turned Against Themselves

A name synhomonymic with “this blows” is forbidding enough without liner notes like “shows what happens when you have too much time on your hands,” “average talent,” and “WARNING: Not for the politically correct!” Worse yet, “contains Copy Control technology” that may cause “playback problems” on “car CD players,” when cars are where Helix (who belonged on the pre-recorded cassette format) most sounded like an actual professional band. The Kitchener, Ontario (motto: “173 Miles From Napanee”), Fela & Kanada 70 have gone through 25 members. Onetime bassist Mike Uzelac found God and was last seen wandering the streets in 1983 “in Detroit,” but Helix got their Rumours in 1984 with Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge, the last time anybody used a fucking apostrophe properly. “Rock You” was covered by Sum 41 on the Fubar soundtrack, which is like if Skye Sweetnam did “Love Is a Battlefield” in 13 Going on 30. They chased Amy with “Heavy Metal Love” (a paean to Joan Jett with Judas Priest music) and chased Amis with Bob Halligan Jr. Previously unavailable tracks include a Tom Jones cover, the turning Japanoize “I Wanna Be Stoned,” and “S.E.X. Rated,” which takes reactionary objectification to an extreme that’s probably been banned in their native country by some Supreme Court ruling. As accurate a reflection of life outside the Defense Perimeter as you’ll find.

Willamena, who are from some place down in the lower 48, turn the Northern superiority complex against itself with devastating results in “Rock-n-Roll.” Dead-on Tragically Sloan cryogenic-retardation vocals interrupt mantric repetitions of “keep it simple” and “it’s just gon’ be a damn good time” with Coupland references like “I really Doug that loud guitar” over a not very loud guitar. Also, this is the worst possible time to channel the Michael Stanley Band, gas prices being what they are. Then again, it’s worse outside the Perimeter, where (as I’ll be first on record to predict) we’re looking at $8 a gallon by Christmas.

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CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

Metal Survivors and Doom-Jazz Upstarts Sludge Into the Void

DEP Sessions is an unearthed field recording by a left-handed English guitarist who once punched out an NME editor, invented Add N to X by inserting metal fingers in Lita Ford’s body, and created a variant of dub that substituted single-note guitar/bass unison riffs for minor-key organ-guitar triads. When his former vocalists fled his Von Trier-like manipulations for MTV or D&D Dogville, Iommi went on expanding stylistically while eclipsing the contexts of his predecessors, over under sideways down—”It Falls Through Me” is like if Billy Gibbons were in the Yardbirds. The train keeps a-rollin’ in “Don’t You Tell Me,” where the click-track “cowbell” appears at 2:06. Iommi should be harsher on his rhythm sections—the one he had in the ’70s was fucking incredible. Glenn Hughes (who also just put out another Iommi collaboration, called Fused) “wore chains before Slayer and Venom” and “had a voice deeper than Will from Mortician,” to quote Anal Cunt’s “If You Don’t Like the Village People, You’re Fucking Gay.” “They’re gonna make a movie about the life I led,” Hughes sings on “Fine,” as if Can’t Stop the Music wasn’t enough. Unless I’m thinking of somebody else with the same name, which is the kind of shoddy research that makes people disparage the cognitive capacities of stoner-rock fans.

Being Stavros Albini’s apparent favorite “doom-jazz” band would make Philadelphia’s Stinking Lizavetta the feta cheesesteak to Norman Whitfield’s vanilla fudge, but SL’s SST fairies wear Shrapnel Records boots. However, “I Denounce the Government” and “Sketches of Pain” imply Voivod warming up the rehearsal room with a Dischord jam. Then again what the fuck do I know, I’m waiting for Albini to produce Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Jay’s Journal is the only book I’ve ever finished. That’s where I read about the 11 (23?) inlaid crosses in Tony Iommi’s guitar neck. Unless that was in Guitar Player. “Over the Edge” would fit the movie of the same name’s soundtrack better than Fu Manchu’s, especially if the director had been Italian or something.


Tony Iommi plays Ozzfest at the PNC Bank Arts Center July 26 and 27.

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CULTURE ARCHIVES Living MUSIC ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

Three-hit wonder reissued, still simply irresistible and hungry like the wolf

Half this group are dead. Robert Palmer wrote Sonic Youth’s best song. I think they liked the video. Tony Thompson is the drummer for Led Zeppelin. He was in a car crash right after Live Aid. The Power Station’s next album (after this first one, which just came out again) is called Presence. Taylor Dayne (or whoever) was in Neurotic Outsiders, and should’ve been in Velvet Revolver, if only to tell them how to make a video. He must’ve been nervous as fuck, playing in front of Bernard Edwards. The guitar solos of Miami Taylor Van Zandt (or whoever) combine the best parts of Wang Chung and Bad English, adding further spikes to the Flowers of Romance in the Bush of Ghosts material. In one two-bar section in “Get It On,” notes-per-second increase with each scalar phrase!

The culmination of Palmer’s world-music odyssey “Some Like It Hot” sounds especially great from speakers on top of a car hood in Equatorial Guinea. National Lampoon’s European Vacation used it to score a fantasy of old-world decadence (and used “Ça Plane Pour Moi” for the Louvre scene). Maybe the joke idea was Rusty Griswold thinking Europe was in eastern Cuba. You couldn’t get away with that in a movie now, jokes about Americans’ (or Australians’) bad geography knowledge. The first casualty of war may be innocence, but you could say that about a lot of things. The band name in German means “What’s next to the cherry moon?”