Nutshells – Ephemera & Detritus

 

From In Touch, April 1982:

Most Australian rock wouldn’t win any awards for originality, but several recent releases indicate an improvement in these traditionally stagnant waters. The Models’ uneven Local And/Or General (Mushroom) packs a wallop of sound and many a good idea, and even includes NZer Buster Stiggs doing his drum-kit proud. An exception to the rule. Mental As Anything’s Cats And Dogs (Festival) and Men At Work’s Business As Usual (CBS) are merely acceptable, though both contain pleasing pop songs designed with radio play in mind. Midnite Oil’s Place Without A Postcard (CBS) sadly suffers an identity crisis. Kevin Borich left NZ’s biggest pop group The La De Da’s and crossed the Tasman a decade ago. The guitar hero’s mini-LP Shy Boys/Shy Girls (Stunn) features guest musicians galore but it still sounds like plain fare. So is We Never Close (Polygram) by expatriates The Pink Flamingos. Within Hello Sailor Dave McArtney wrote some brilliant material (their two albums are true classics) but on the second Flamingos fling the material is largely tired and the performances uninspired. Inside Out (Polygram) by another Hello Sailor chappie, vocalist Graham Brazier, is an altogether classier affair. Very much in the Sailor mold, this album is of international standard… Black American soul/funk puts a lot of the new British wave to shame, although it has a tendency towards gloss and showbiz that’s decidedly tacky at times. Disco pioneers Chic spring back to form on Take It Off (Atlantic), a cool, smooth groove. Earth, Wind And Fire overdose on the mystical but come out smiling on Raise (CBS), which is more of the same belting clean horny club-soul sandwich. The Jacksons’ Live (Epic) double set has them perform an entire show which, if one survives the schmaltzy presentation, delivers reasonable versions of the best out of both Michael’s and the brother’s catalogues. Was (Not Was) (Ze Records) are the latest thang from Noo Yoik. Though I’m told their debut has loads of socio-political relevance and many highly-regarded contributors, it still sounds disjointed and largely unpalatable to yours truly. Taste and try before you buy. Mesopotamia (WEA) is the second B52’s mini-album. Talking Heads’ David Byrne produced the disc, which although no great progression is a satisfying rhythmic dance mix… Wherefore art thou, new wave? Ireland’s U2 submit more of their joyous, spiritually-inclined rock on October (Island). A virtual re-run of the first album Boy, it’s also just as good. Their music may be conventional, but that’s not the point. U2 really do have soul. The Bureau are an off-shoot of soul rebels Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Their debut Only For Sheep (WEA) will please those hooked on the sound, but their songwriting needs development. Simultaneously more populist but less popular than Echo & The Bunnymen, contemporaries The Sound offer From The Lion’s Mouth (WEA) – hardly compulsory listening but worthy of investigation. Gosh It’s… Bad Manners (Magnet) shows that ska’n’b duffers Buster Bloodvessel and Co can come up with the musical goods when required, despite popular belief. It’s apparent that they’re neither dunces nor a fad; neither is their wanton musical schizophrenia ultimately inspired. See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah! City All Over! Go Ape Crazy! (RCA) is the title of the Bow Wow Wow record. BWW being another Malcolm McLaren (Sex Pistols mastermind media manipulator) concept and this their first fling. The meaty Burundi beat and vocals of 15-year old Annabella Lwin are loadsa fun but become tedious over 40 minutes. Androgynous ex-heavy pap flashers Japan come up with a genuinely quirky if fraudulent one-off in Tin Drum (Virgin). Though Eno did the Chinese stories much better on Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) in 1974, methinks this Japan noodle will grace many a varied turntable in 1982. The Stranglers grind onwards with La Folie (Liberty), a strangely muted followup to last year’s weirdo The Meninblack. If anything, it’s a step into the past. Prince Charming (CBS) is the ridiculous new concept from Adam & The Ants. This is cluttered kitsch at its best/worst. Love it or leave it alone. Fools Rush In Where Angels Dare To Tread (RTC) is a patchy, nominally interesting compilation from the Blitz club Cabaret Futura. Insubstantial. Fourth Drawer Down (Beggar’s Banquet) deserves and requires the absorption method. Though it takes time the second Associates album is worth every minute. Apart from the highly original approach the group takes to its music, there is the unparalleled magnificence of Billy Mackenzie’s soaring voice to stun one. King Crimson can never again be quite as important an entity as they were (uncredited) in the early ‘70s. The original records are required listening for any serious music fan. The reformed group have Discipline (EG) and it’s more to do with funky Talking Heads-type sounds than anything. Did I mention that it’s also musically brilliant? Crimson mainman Robert Fripp has his second solo guitar Frippertronics LP, Let The Power Fall (EG). Like God Save The Queen before it, the disc is a haunting addition to adventurous record collections… Cedric Myton & The Congos follow their 1977 classic with Face The Music (EMI). It’s in a similar peaceful reggae vein. Last and definitely least is the long-feared solo debut from ex-Emerson Lake & Palmer bassist/vocalist, Greg Lake (Chrysalis). I always had a soft spot for tunes like ‘Lucky Man’ and ‘In The Beginning’, but here Lake summons plain cliché after plain cliché.

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