Singles Reviewed by 808 State

17th August 1991
Page: ??



REM: Near Wild Heaven (Warner Brothers) 

This – the third track taken off their 'Out Of Time' album – whilst still gorgeous does not match 'Losing My Religion's maverick vision, or the ecstatic giggle of 'Shiny Happy People'. Some album tracks should not be kicked out into the cold, cruel world on their own. 

G: It's not as poppy as the previous couple, not as immediate.
M: I've always thought that REM are a great pop band and I was dead happy to see them in the charts, but I don't think this particular song is strong enough. It's really quite ordinary, and as it's on the album REM fans will have it anyway.

BUZZCOCKS: Spiral Scratch (Document)

A blast from the past I – for one – was forced to witness after the event, as I drowned slowly in Positive Punk and Psychedelic Furs releases all those moons ago. Still, for those who are interested – and everyone should be– this is Shelley and Devoto as anybody with half a brain and a penchant for six packs, button badges and telling your parents that soaped haircuts are chic would like to remember them. Punk became a cancerous old beast, as much of a glove puppet for greased record company hands as any other genre, but 808 State are only too happy to remember when glue was the hip substance to snort.

G: This is a seminal record, but it was very much of the right time in the right place. It's a bit of history.
M: It is history but I'd recommend people to buy it because it evokes a time when it was still DIY Punk, before Boy and the fashion industry got hold of it.

THE FARM: Mind (Produce) 

For my money (says she of the permanently empty coffers) this is the best thing The Farm have done for some time, if only because– at last! – they've mustered the nerve to unshackle themselves from the 'Groovy Train' albatross that made them the stars they are today. Clean, unpretentious, disorganized pop, 'Mind' celebrates their past just as the last shovelful of hype attempts to bury it. There's still some way to go, but at least this is a giant step in the general direction of The Farm's true identity.

M: The Farm are to the Mondays what The Charlatans are to The Stone Roses. They came at the tail end of the Mondays with that lollopy style and can't cut it really. They're OK, they're not beyond redemption, but this is still a bit muddy form
G: It's got no X factor. They've got their own sound now but The Farm are a classic case of a band that needs input from
outside parties, DJs and that, to produce good records. Left to their own devices, they're just another band being A Band.

ZOE: Sunshine On A Rainy Day (Polydor)

An elegant lounge on the dance sunbed with a pair of pliers brazenly giving grief to the average beach poseur's nuts. Exciting, fresh and sinister.

M: That's a great record. It's being played in the clubs a lot even though it's been out before, about a year ago and wasn't really noticed then. Summery and breezy.
G: The only record we've heard so far with a decent chorus. It's a big hit in our house. I didn't really want to like it but it played on my mind.

THE BLACK CROWES: Hard To Handle (Def American)

The sound of a bison in a Motorhead T-shirt shitting and vomiting systematically on James Brown's parole papers. Some music is destined to be an opiate for the masses, this record is merely inappropriate.

G: We like The Black Crowes, we've done our research and for a rock band they've got edge.
M: But that said, 'Hard To Handle' is a Northern Soul classic by Otis Redding and they shouldn't have attempted it. It just doesn't work.

JULIAN LENNON: Saltwater (Virgin)

Imagine being Julian Lennon/ You couldn't if you tried/No talent or charisma/Just famous 'cos his dad died/Imagine all the people/Who'd laugh and sneer at you/ooh, ooh.. . doobedooooo! .../Maybe I'm a cynical bastard/But I'm not the only one/Maybe one day Jules will f---- off/Then Yoko Ono can start on Sean ...

G: It's got the same flute sound as 'Strawberry Fields', the same echo on his voice as The Beatles' records and even the guitar sounds are exactly the same. It's somebody trying to make a John Lennon record just because they happen to have the same genes. It's cloning.
M: For me it's a Burtons record. Dad and Lad, with Lad wearing exactly the same jacket and trousers as Dad is wearing. If you going to go for that Dad and Lad thing you might as well go for Ziggy Marley because he does it 90 times better. 


FINAL EXPOSURE: Vortex (Plus 8)

A killer electronic track that cheekily gives the finger to the norms (and inherent pitfalls) of its chosen genre. At times wilfully sliding into a self-dug techno grave, 'Vortex' then saunters out through six feet of death-gravel to hit you with a bolt of sun right between the eyes. Astonishing, decidedly weird and almost oppressively original, 'Vortex' is a much needed antidote to the chart-smart dross so endemic today. Final Exposure are Joey Beltram, Mundo Musique and Richie Hawtin. Plus 8 is a Detroit label whose delights you can sample for yourself if that morbid fear of specialist dance record shops hasn't taken too fast a hold. 

Graham: Definitely one of the best tracks I've heard in ages.
Martin: This Plus 8 label is putting out some of the most innovative, experimental new music around.... Sometimes it's a bit off the wall, but at least you can trust a Plus 8 record to be challenging. Joey Beltram is brilliant, he breaks all the rules, does everything you're not supposed to do in the studio. People that inspiring are too easily overlooked

FEARGAL SHARKEY: To Miss Someone (Virgin)

Feargal Sharkey is famous for being the Man God with the most heavenly wheeze in pop, and– rather less flatteringly – for having a face that reminds one that it's time to dig the garden. Here he covers a Maria McKee song but – sadly – does not improve on the majestic original version.
M: Feargal has come a long way from being John Peel's favourite little punk band but on this he's trying to sound too sophisticated. I like him when he sounds dead raw.
G: He's better when he writes his own stuff, then he has the X factor . . . this just sounds like FM radio averageness to me.

TIN MACHINE: You Belong In Rock 'N' Roll (Victory)

Ground Control to David Bowie/ Pin back your earholes, listen on/Take our good advice and bin your Tin Machiiiiiinnnnnneeee... . (BASH, POW, STRANGE SQUIGGLY NOISES) This is David Bowie to Ground Control/I've really lost the plot/ No-one's driving the bus and my suits are always crap/This music caper is very difficult these dayyyyyyzzzzz! . . . but hee hee hahaha/Hee I'm a-gonna drone and you can't stop me!.. .

G: We're quite big Bowie fans from his weirdo 'Low' and 'Heroes' period.
M: And being a fan you realise that Tin Machine is not exactly his best project. I'm full of respect for David Bowie when he's depressed, but here he just sounds lost.
G: Yeah, like he wrote it in his lunch hour.

EON: Fear (Vinyl Solution)

Some weirdoes who rate Vincent Price higher than God plod– like all eternal vinyl pedestrians– through a 'menacing' New Beat-style sequel to 'Thriller'. At the end one feels strangely cheated. As if you've been promised an introduction to Satan and end up meeting Lorraine Chase instead.
M: Eon have done some great records. They were among the first people to get into the Euro thing which of late has become a bit of a formula to follow. A bit of spine-chilling film here, a weird bit there, a chorus, a drop ... Subsequently this isn't as exciting as it could be.

STEVIE NICKS: Sometimes It's A Bitch (EMI)

Presumably determined to shed her Queen-ln-The-Floaty-Petticoat image for good, Stevie goes all Warrior Woman on us with a Cher-esque power ballad and a slinky Stars And Stripes frock. Fans of tambourine solos will be gutted.

M: Jon Bon Jovi tries to ride like Bruce Springsteen but can't cut it.
Don't be so dismissive, this is Stevie's tough new sound.
M: It just sounds like she wants to walk on somebody's back in high heels to me.

DIVINYLS: Make Out Alright (Virgin)

That Antipodean slut who – nonchalance personified masturbated for MTV a little while ago, rather distressingly repeats the performance, only this time around she's not so shy. Roxette for people who see no reason to change their underwear regularly.
M: Power Pop with a pout.


Believe it or not, the likes of The Grumbleweeds, The Wurzels and Chas 'N' Dave are considered a potent musical force in certain areas of the modern pop community. Here strange men in T-shirts long rotted at the armpits, and trousers tucked into their socks, bravely demonstrate that Brewer's Droop isn't something that happens to other people.

G: Ugh, a definite pub record. It should have one of those sleeves made out of beer-mats.
Perhaps they've been pressurized by their ten fans to bring it out.
M: Yeah, they're one of those bands you trip over in pubs, and the lead singer's girlfriend knows all the words and she stands at the front mimicking him all the way through. If Paul Daniels' son made a record it would sound like this.

AIRSTREAM: Follow Through (One Little Indian)

Airstream's contribution to this effort appears to consist of having the nous to realise they've made a truly horrific grunge-rock travesty and ringing up B Gillespie Esq for Andy Weatherall's number. Weatherall's only mistake was to answer their call.

M: They did that brilliant Rolling Stones' cover, 'We Love You', a little while ago, a piano version ... But you've got to ask yourself is this one a crucial dance record and, no, it isn't. I've liked bits and bats of Weatherall's stuff but I just can't understand why anybody does grunge rock bands for anything else but the money.
G: His remixes pay no attention to the original... and I quite like that attitude.

DREAM ACADEMY: Angel Of Mercy (blanco y negro)

Re-released MOR ferret-shite from those hideous New-Age wankers we thought had died the death of a thousand enemas years ago.

M: As soon as that came on I thought it sounded like Pink Floyd and sure enough Dave Gilmour has produced it. This is just inflatable pig territory. That just went straight through me like Andrews Liver Salts.

FORTRAN 5: Groove (Mute)

An unfocused reggae-dance track that mewls helplessly for what seems like the Queen Mother and Aswad's combined lifetimes until suddenly you are woken from your slumber by a man who appears to speak entirely in consonants screaming gibberish at you. What is it about reggae, ragga and the rest that always makes one feel racist?

M: There's the odd one or two ragga records which are really good . . . but in England when something's good it becomes a kind of movement and immediately ODs.
G: In Britain there is that opportunist spirit which isn't necessarily a bad thing because it keeps things alive.
M: But the good ones are the ones that bite you on the conk. They're like rogue sharks – they come and find you, you don't have to find them. As for the rest .. .
G: Shit finds its own level.