Bristol Archive Records Blog

Essential Bop – Album Review

Bristol Archives

There’s a great press release that came with, available at the url below, which speaks of a terrible disappointment for this band. Envisaging their music bringing devoted women to see their performances the reality of massed throngs of men in thick glasses anxious to discuss neuroses must have been a trial. That said, being in the band clearly wasn’t the dominant factor of their lives as what they went on to do is far more interesting, and we learn that Nick Tufnell became a country squire, Mike Fewings is a rally driver, Dave Robinson is a ‘coastal guru’, Martin Kieman is ‘an intellectual Scouse Git’ and on the less dramatic front Steve Bush is still active musically, while Simon Tyler is ‘writing the definitive history of the Fosseway.’ Rock and Roll, ladies and gentlemen. A 21 track salute for the alternately peevish and demanding Bristol band with recordings between 1979-1981, this is another enthralling Bristol Archives release. 


They’re almost like an early Inspiral Carpets as they spookily gambol through ‘Chronicle’, ‘Raider’s Blues’ with wiggly guitar and squealing keyboards, then some espionage bass and artily splayed vocals across the roving ‘Eloquent Sounds’ with hushed keys and oblique rhythmical nonchalance, peculiar wobbly vocals and spooky sixties throwbacks. ‘Croaked’ is thrashed by some willing drums and could be great if it weren’t for so many overlapping elements converging and confusing behind the mock crooning and if ‘Butler In Running Shorts’ seems to justify inclusion just because of the title and does sound like a better version of The Fall, it is eventually bollocks because they have no sense of its poise so it rises and slumps unnecessarily, like a posh Pop Group.‘Tin And Plastic’, ‘Love Is A Loud Noise’, ‘Monkey Glands’ and ‘Mandarin Whores’ all have some charming touches and bags of energy which keeps it listenable even though this type of Indie never really grabbed me back then. I never got anything from either the Scritti camp through to the more orderly Blow Monkeys. I never even liked arty 90’s indie and now don’t listen to any of it, so I am frequently left feeling detached by this music, as it seems detached itself where Post-Punk invited mental collisions. And yet…they continued to hold my interest.

‘Quotation’, ‘Death Wears Yellow Garters’ and ‘Pleasure Dome’ are all live and, interestingly, the latter is great when it’s comparatively empty, but as everything crushes in things stop working so well. ‘The Western Blues’ is lyrically pretty disturbing, which I think is the intention, ‘Mau Mau’ gets by one some bulbous bass and punchy vocals, ‘ABZ Of Love’ annoyed me deeply but a jazzier ‘The Death Of The Cool’ is delightful, archly dramatic and sleekly stylish with a cute guitar outbreak.

‘Espionage’ does that James Bond guitar thing but the keys are practically curdled, ‘Why Did You Call My Name?’ is kooky but fun, ‘Kicking The Sun Around’ grows increasingly cool as the keyboard pushes behind the sensibly controlled vocals and the lyrics have a greater discipline, making for a coherently strange pop song. ‘Cenotaph’ continues the harshly weird lyrics but with a divinely mellow melody, showing how they have the power to attract in a weird way, then we get bustled out by the live version of ‘Chronicle.’

An interesting bunch of nutters, basically.



Review from  May 2009

Leave a Reply