Music snobbery is never pretty. On Volume Nine, the editorial comment signed off by Robin Gibson & Rob Deacon contains a sarcastic tirade against The Brit Awards, The Music Week Awards, The Chart Show, Top Of The Pops and Radio One FM. I’m not sure what the point was aside from getting a dig in at people whose tastes weren’t as esoteric or superior as the Volume crew. It didn’t sit well with me in 1994 and 26 years later, still reads like an immature and po-faced rant. It’s much easier to make your point without denigrating others. Don’t forget that Volume Nine seems to be the most common one; it was accompanied by a double vinyl release that seemed to turn up in every second hand shop almost from the get go. It was almost as if they were trying to enter the mainstream. And I can definitely say that this CD is the weakest release so far. Work that one out.
We start with a new recording, Mark Lanegan’s Wheels – a suitably morose opener, filed under the thinking man’s grunge. The text mentions Kurt Cobain reclaiming Where Did You Sleep Last Night. Less than two weeks after Volume Nine hit the shops, he was dead. From one Mark to another, Morphine are next with the significantly titled Sharks Patrol These Waters, a deft slice of intense vocals melded with sax. Equally short is That Dog’s minimal One Summer Night; The Breeders meets Jale. There’s a much heavier version in existence but I prefer this exclusive strum. “I don’t want to be like AC/DC or Ramones, who are great bands who make the same records year after year.” says Buffalo Tom’s Bill Janovitz. The live version of Soda Jerk is decent, its parent LP A Big Red Letter Day, a popular favourite in Marlborough Road. Recorded for VILLA 65-VPRO Radio 3, Holland.
By 1994 the tide was starting to turn against Paul Weller. I can’t remember exactly what started it but the vitriol that followed in the wake of Stanley Road and the endless Dadrock jibes took ages to wear off. Some snobbish musos have never forgiven him even today. Black Sheep Boy is an enchanting Tim Hardin cover. Next, a Madder Rose exclusive – the haunting Roland Navigator – before a new Sonic Youth number, the sprawling Doctor’s Orders as sung by Thurston – the version that ended up on the somewhat half-formed Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star is very different. The interview is excellent as is the career overview. We take a sharp turn left with Wagon Christ’s introspective ambient Gas Fish which gradually builds into beaty squelch. And then some conscious techno from Pressure Of Speech. Emile ebbs and flows, always atmospheric and threatening to blast off. Check out those crazy solemn samples, reminiscent of a less angry Consolidated.
Time for a digression – take a look at the annual readers’ poll:
Best Band: Suede
Best New Band: Elastica
Female Vocalist: Bjork
Male Vocalist: Paul Weller / Morrissey
Best Album: Suede – Suede
Best Video: Bjork – Human Behaviour
Best Single: The Breeders – Cannonball
Volume Track Of The Year: Elastica – S.O.F.T.
Prat Of The Year: John Major
Highlight: Reading ’93
Top Intoxicant: Beer
Best TV: Have I Got News For You
Best Radio: John Peel
Best Magazine: Select
Spooky’s Aqualung is a remix of track from the album Gargantuan. Complete with ambient undertones. Next a brace from Ireland; the Divine Comedy came of age with Liberation, a record so radically different from their tepid debut Fanfare For The Comic Muse that it might as well be a different band. Your Daddy’s Car, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, Lucy, Three Sisters, Europe By Train – all sublime. Our treat is an acoustic cover of Talk Talk’s Life’s What You Make It, recorded at Elephant Studios, London. It also turned up on the bonus disc of A Secret History. It’s followed by a live version of The Cranberries’ How, a decent take and interestingly, Dolores is described as “looking more frightening than any Riot Grrrl I’ve ever seen.” I’ll bet some people found that observation “problematic”. And not to be confused with Here, the Tindersticks drop a new version of frantic album track Her.
Time for some verbal vomiting. Gorge yourself on the confessional strum epic from Kristin Hersh, Close Your Eyes. It’s a demo version of a track off Hips And Makers but is no less powerful. It’s followed by Jah Wobble’s Whisky Priests, a percussive curio with a Latin twist. “This is war. The fascism thing is getting well out control…” Armed with some tasty rhythms and exotic Eastern grooves, Fun-da-Mental’s New World Order keeps the interest for its (almost) six minute duration. We stay angry with Rub Ultra’s Suspend and Blessed Ethel’s Daisy; shame both are so very charmless. Does anybody remember Thee Amazing Colossal Men? They played the first Féile in 1990, releasing their one and only album Totale around the same time. Later reborn as Compulsion, Top Of The World shows a much harder edge, almost punk-tinged. Despite this, it doesn’t really go anywhere – so much so, I yearn to hear Take Me Higher or Superloveexperience just once more.
Kristin Hersh – Close Your Eyes (Demo)
Paul Weller – Black Sheep Boy
Lest we forget
That Dog – One Summer Night