Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Shriekback ‎– Oil And Gold (1985)

Style: New Wave, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Arista, Island Records,

A1.   Malaria
A2.   Everything That Rises Must Converge
A3.   Fish Below The Ice
A4.   This Big Hush
A5.   Faded Flowers
B1.   Nemesis
B2.   Only Thing That Shines
B3.   Health And Knowledge And Wealth And Power
B4.   Hammerheads
B5.   Coelocanth

Oil and Gold is surprising for several reasons. For one, the departure of singer/guitarist Carl Marsh midway through produced no noticeable dip in the record's quality. For another, live drums appear for the first time on a Shriekback album, thanks to Martyn Barker, a longtime associate who was added to the band at the tail end of the Jam Science sessions. Most surprising, though, is how much this album rocks out, particularly on the songs featuring ex-Damned guitarist Lu Edmonds. It even yielded an out of left field hit single in "Nemesis," which not only uses the word "parthenogenesis," but rhymes it successfully, and does so in the chorus. In truth, Oil and Gold is six-tenths of a great album. It leads off with the rip-roaring one-two-three punch of "Malaria," "Everything That Rises Must Converge," and "Fish Below the Ice," all featuring Marsh on vocals. These are followed by "This Big Hush" and "Faded Flowers," two tremendously beautiful slow numbers sung by Barry Andrews, who took over for Marsh as lead vocalist. The B side (vinylly speaking) begins nicely with "Nemesis" and quickly falls apart, with the nadir being the clunkers "Health and Knowledge and Wealth and Power" (sung by Marsh) and "Hammerheads" (sung by Andrews). Still, Oil and Gold's highlights make it a rewarding listen.up, Inc.
Bill Cassel / AllMusic

Killing Joke ‎– Night Time (1985)

Style: Post-Punk
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: EG, Polydor, Virgin

A1.   Night Time
A2.   Darkness Before Dawn
A3.   Love Like Blood
A4.   Kings And Queens
B1.   Tabazan
B2.   Multitudes
B3.   Europe
B4.   Eighties

Bass – Paul Raven
Drums – Paul Ferguson
Guitar – Geordie
Keyboards, Vocals – Jaz Coleman
Producer – Chris Kimsey

Marking the full return from the band's out-of-nowhere hiatus in 1982, Night Time, following after a couple of test-the-waters EPs, finds the reconstituted Killing Joke, with Paul Raven in on bass but otherwise unchanged, caught between their earlier aggression and a calmer, more immediately accessible approach. This turned out to be the band's Achilles heel in the end, with later albums in the '80s evidence that the group had turned into an unbelievably boring, generic modern rock band. At this point, however, the tension between the two sides had a perfect balance, and as a result Night Time is arguably the quartet's freshest album since its debut, with a warm, anthemic quality now supplementing the blasting, driving approach that made the band's name, as songs like "Kings and Queens" demonstrate. Geordie Walker pulls off some jaw-dropping solos amid his fierce riffs -- check out his turns on the title track -- while Paul Ferguson mixes and matches electronic beats with his own very well (perhaps a little less intensely than before, but not by much). Jaz Coleman's experimentation with keyboards -- chopped-up vocal samples, calmer and sweet lead melodies -- is paralleled by his own singing, now mostly free of the treatments and echoes familiar from earlier days. He's got a great singing voice as it stands, and it's a treat to hear him let it flow forth without forcing it. "Eighties" turned out to be the retrospectively most well-known song, due to a surprising and not always remembered example of Killing Joke's influence -- Nirvana, of all groups, thoroughly cloned the watery guitar line at the heart of the track for "Come as You Are." "Love Like Blood" was the breakthrough single in the U.K., although -- and for good reason -- it managed the bizarre trick of slotting alongside Duran Duran for mainstream radio airplay while still sounding like nobody other than Killing Joke. A pity the group then spent some years doing pallid clones of the song.
Ned Raggett / AllMusic