ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Singles

SINGLE OF THE WEEK

THE POGUES ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes (Stiff) Through a whiskey ‘n shit world of grey suits and large pubs with cobbled yards, the Pogues touch on a sensibility rare indeed amongst the wide smile of pop 40. Theres a maudlin rub to their work—at times edging on caricature—that comes from people living real lives and telling it how it is. No shrink rap glamour here. This songs tenor is so damn sad—and Id kill to hear a flute like that when Im in my cups—that it could only bring to the salt tears and stale Woodbines at the end of a long story and a large bottle of the good stuff. You have to be tough.

TOUGH POSSE

YOU HAVE to be tough like… WAYNE SMITHs ‘Under Me Sleng Tong (Greensleeves). Big in the manor for a while now, ‘Sleng Tengs rushing electroed rhythm is one of the checkpoints on an increasingly diverse reggae scene. Fast style, electro touches and altogether sharper production standards lie, NYC recording studios) are making the rockers top 10 just about the healthiest place to be these days.

And right there in the middle is Mr BARRINGTON LEVY, his ‘Murderer (Jah Life) is a delicious slow burn built around a strictly legal, concrete hard drum/ bass foundation and delivered with a side plate of sweetness itself… while PAUL BLAKE AND BLOODFIRE POSSEs ‘Every Posse Get Flat/Pink Panther (Revue) comes straight from the herbman. Two lilting pieces of sun-on-me-back relaxation that are a strictly home time recreation… something not to be found on SMILEY CULTUREs re-issue, ‘Cockney Translation (Fashion) a sharp talk reconcilation of Bow and Brixton, titfer and tam, that may lack the story line of ‘Police Officer but for sheer linguistic agility plays Arthur Daley next to Arthur Mullard. Keep it stirring…

Which is just what RUN DMC do on the totally justified ‘King Of Rock (Fourth and Broadway). Ive talked about the hard stuff, but pal this is just HARRRD. A rap ‘n rock attack thats a potentially more explosive mix than nitro and glycerine or KURTIS BLOW and Go Go? KBs 1982 tribute to DC, ‘Party Time (Club) is a welcome, if predictable re-release. One of the safest ways, barring a raid on the Park Royal brewery of keeping the League Of Gentlemen in their place. Just rich… unlike GRANDMASTER MELLE MEL AND THE FURIOUS FIVEs re-arrangement of Trouble Funks ‘Pump Me Up (Sugarhill) an opportunistic cash-in characterised by the most pedestrian rap attack yet to come from this quarter… now the instrumental side, thats something…

ROUGH OR SMOOTH

WELL, ACTUALLY right in between is BILLY BUTLERs ‘Right Track (Skratch) a classic piece of Northern soul whose stomping insistence, brassy freshness and vocal pleading belie the cruder studio techniques of yore and showcase a vitality sadly lacking in the slick uptempo soul of say, MIDNIGHT STARs ‘Operator (Solar)… a club hit for some time but lacking the essential bite and perspiration to leave the purely technical behind. Nice, but no carnival, neither is AMII STEWARTs ‘That Loving Feeling (RCA), a smooth ride into nothingness, rather like lip gloss without a pair of lips or APOLLONIA 6 ‘Blue Limousine (Warners) without their Prince. These people make sexual attraction a form of commodity broking and ‘Blue Limousines the absolute zenith of male potency. Cluttered.

DEAD OR ALIVE

IF MEAT is murder, THE SMITHS ‘Shakespeares Sister (Rough Trade) is death by strangulation. A bruising, unfocused rush that mistakes energy for Eater live in Stockport cemetery. One wonders if such an ill conceived move would have been considered by a record company less enamoured of their one major act. A dumb record and a poor way to end such a fine singles run.

While WIN start theirs with ‘Unamerican Broadcasting (Swamplands). Usually I treat obsessions with Warhol and Sixties New York scumbags with the utmost contempt. Yet while the fake Yank accents and sub-Andy peel-off record cover here are decidedly not 1985, the black vinyl stuff is possessed of a charming impish verve… piano and guitar underpinned by rock steady drumming and lots of silly broadcast interference… Fine as it goes…

While a slab of MEAT LOAF ‘Piece Of The Action (Arista) usually goes a long way. But, this is like any other Meat single really. Slow piano based intro where the man mountain gets all soft until the Luftwaffe open fire, nuclear war starts and Mr Loaf hits overdrive—guitars a clucking, earthquake a stirring and so on. Less power though from JASON AND THE SCORCHERS ‘White Lies (EMI America). Some would have you jump through hoops for this stuff, but souped up rnb/country hybrids smack of nothing so much as… the great pub rock revival. In which case make mine a one-way ticket to Bali… THE UNTOUCHABLES ‘Free Yourself (Stiff) are more of the same, only this time drifting ever so slightly into an uptempo Northern soul backbeat and some tuff urban soul brass. Nice enough, but wheres the hook, bud…

Not lost on THOMAS LEERs ‘Heartbreak (Arista), Id warrant. Failing to build on the kudos of last summers ‘International, this is a curiously lifeless run through of failed moves. Methinks a case of the studio in control of the song. Which is definitely not the case with the DAMNEDs curious ‘Grimly Fiendish (MCA), coming on like an outtake from the last Madness LP, ‘Grimly Fiendish replaces the usual guitar thrash for some neat chord progression, a dash of melody and a set of backing vocals that are more Small Faces than punk debris. Strange one.

Cue KILLING JOKE ‘Kings And Queens (EG) which finds us under some dark, rumbling megaton album track trying to get out. Possessed of the same dank menace as ‘Love Like Blood but all that black and bleak may be too much for the squeamish…

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOODs ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome (ZTT) doesnt quite fit together. The presentation, the sleeve notes, neither square with the group or their audience. The record, always a fine album track, is a bloated, self-important grand daddy of a single, more to do with the self-indulgence of early Seventies types than the vibrant, exciting, sensational scam that Frankies sales and Frankies marketing people tell us they are. It is in fact a beautifully executed piece of pomp and that has no part in the past, present or future as the full colour poster of this review might say. Disappointing.