Running Time: 72.33 mins
(CD & cassette only)
review by Scott
M, August 1997 (First published F&F 3)
© 1997 Fodderstompf.com / F&F Publishing
It's been five (!) years since John first announced he was taking time off from PiL to do a solo album, in that time we've had 'Kiss This', an abortive record deal with Atlantic, 'Rotten No Irish', 'Open U'p and even a Pistols reunion! Though it's still been a long five years for PiL/Lydon fans. I knew from Lydon's comments over the last few years it was going to be different, I just wasn't sure how different...
Quite a mellow start to the album. This like just about every track on the album is very keyboard/synth based. Slow plodding keyboards with big drums coming in every so often, and John actually singing! The lyrics concern a love letter from a condemned man to his soon to be widowed wife, and his thoughts on the after life (or lack of it) "lets hope its not a grave".
Mellow melodic keyboards, strange background noises and very repetitive catchy (yet unsettling) vocals. A definite stab at religion "all religions are the devils pact".
Slow guitar/synth with very mellow vocals, and again very repetitive (maybe too repetitive). The lyrics are loosely based around serial killer John Wayne Gacy, but I think one line suits Lydon perfectly in his Filthy Lucre pose "psychopath dressed as a clown"! He also re-uses of the "the most evil thing I can do, is to give my body to you" line from 'Cruel'.
One of the most easily accessible tracks which is amazing considering the main instrument is an accordion! According to John the song doesn't use many musical instruments, and includes cardboard boxes as drums and him "honking" through toilet rolls! Good solid Lydon vocals and very catchy. All about missing the comforts of the city "I miss the car park, I miss the concrete, I miss the city, I miss the rain and sleet". Brilliant stuff!
5. ANOTHER WAY
A simple song that's a bit too long and doesn't change much. Whistling keyboards with loud bass and drum loops. John's wailing like a banshee on this one, but he uses some very irritating sampled vocals and cymbals that spoil it. Self explanatory lyrics on this one "I gotta find another way".
One of my faves. Very fast dancey keyboards and drums with John giving it full belt! Though again its spoilt a bit by sampled backing vocals. The lyrics are about having a love affair then being "took to the cleaners", so its time to "heave ho!". Apparently it isn't based on him, which is just as well as Nora would probably have killed him for telling the whole world. It'd probably be a dance hit if it was released as a single.
7. TAKE ME
I thought this would be the single. Definitely the easiest song to get into, very poppy, a bit like a track off PiL's '9' album. Brilliant lyrics "I've seen your world don't want nothing in it". Steady drums with excellent background keyboards and good solid Lydon vocals.
8. A NO AND A YES
Steady plodding bass with loads of brilliant synth effects. Brilliant vocals too. A song about not sitting on the fence and having your own opinion (for which I recommend your own fanzine).
Probably my favourite. Fast melodic keyboards with some eastern style guitar and background snyth noises. Brilliant talking style vocals with equally brilliant lyrics about stupid ignorant people, "could you ever, ever see a thing right through, or take maybe an individual point of view", "when you couldn't put sense in a sentence". Excellent stuff!
An anti-censorship song. Pumping keyboards with strange background noises and weird echoing vocals along with cavalry style trumpets. "the scissors are coming to cut out your heart, the censors are pointing before you can start".
11. OPEN UP - CHEMICAL
This is an edit of the version that originally appeared on the 1993 remix 12". Its totally different to the original Leftfield version and features the Chemicals trade mark drums and scratching, along with a kind of reggae style bass line but very few lyrics. It's ok, but not as good as the original.
12. GRAVE RIDE - MOBY MIX
The first of the new mixes. Totally different to the original. A very dancey version with big drum loops and a sort of phasing (that's the best word I can think of!) keyboard style, but very few vocals. I reckon they could put this on in a club when your pissed and you'd never know who it was!
13. SUN - LEFTFIELD MIX
The single. More of a souped up production than a remix. Not really that different just a few things like louder drums and extra synth noises. Although I would say I maybe prefer it to the original (just).
14. PSYCHOPATH - LEFTFIELD MIX
A more sinister version than the original. Again totally different. A slow moody start with dramatic keyboards that bursts in with fast drums and excellent background synths. I'm not sure if I prefer this version or not.
15. STUMP - DANNY SABER MIX
Another totally different version, and I'm pretty sure its also a different vocal take too. Pulsing bass line/snyth with some distorted guitar, background sabre (sword) noises and a vocal track that sounds like its been recorded from a scratchy piece of vinyl. Good, but not as good as the original.
Well that's what I thought. To be honest it wasn't as "far out there" as I thought it might have been. Its nowhere near as inaccessible as the press made out, and if Virgin had pulled the finger out could have been reasonably succesfull. The album has a very mellow start and a very simple feel to it that will take a few listens to get into (but all the best stuff always does). To be honest I don't think its the best thing he has ever done, but its certainly not the worst. Some of it is brilliant but unfortunately some of it is only average. Definitely worth getting if you have an open mind and realise there's more to music than fast tinny guitars and shouting, because its certainly not that!
I'm not over keen on the front cover colours but the rest of the packaging is quite good. The booklet contains hand written lyrics and doodles by John along with additional colour prints and photos of the covershot, which are also featured on the CD and the inside cover.
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JL 97 © unknown
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