Volume Eleven (Volume, 1994)

Review
“Our volume knobs go up to eleven – Rockin’ Reading Special” says the back cover. This issue bears no editorial; not a bad thing given the rather pompous tone of the last few. “Plus 192 page book with factual and fictional instructions”; but this one feels different because the title is much more prominent. “And fishes’ eyes will watch your lies.”

Fading in to you: track 1 is a banger. Drugstore’s truly, madly deeply melancholic Super Glider, hanging brightly in the crisp autumn air. I remember playing it on the discman as I got the bus into town to see Pulp Fiction. It made every more sense on the way home. Next are Primal Scream with a soulful, almost euphoric live version of Jailbird recorded at The Hardman Café in Japan. The 18 page feature is brilliant; taking in a career overview and band FAQs. Duffy’s first proper single was Heart Of Glass while it’s poignant seeing the late Denise Johnson give her responses – she bought five funk jams in one go. Why are you in Primal Scream? “I don’t know. I was meant to do this. That’s why I’m here.” In the feature we see Bobby Gillespie popping into Tower Records looking for the Rolling Stones’ Aftermath – “the first proper one where they do their own songs.” Was he US or UK?

The arrival of Sleeper and Louise Wener is obviously a cause for celebration. Most def. Pyrotechnician (I Think I Love You) is self-assured and upfront; a bit like Louise. She disses duff ’80s music, lentil-eating PC Guardian readers, extreme feminism and John Major. Adjacent is an advert for Sister Ray – revel in those prices when CDs were still more expensive than LPs. Lush’s Split would set you back £10.99 or £6.99 for the vinyl. What follows is a sharp lull in quality starting with Senser’s Eject (Live) – simply too much going on, electronic texture overload. Upping the anger scale are Blaggers ITA with their thuggish Dairy Thief – “pop with a bloody nose” – I don’t think so. The final punch comes from Terrorvision and the anodyne 4 I Was You. Leading us towards a better future are Cypress Hill, heroes of Féile with a remix of Lick A Shot, all creative beats and decent bass. After all that, it’s a nice surprise to hear The Volumatic Mix of Collapsed Lung’s Dis MX, much better than I remember despite the industrial (strength) rapping.

Somewhere in my 7″ boxes is a Jale single. On red vinyl, called Cut but the tracks are Promise and 3 Days. Released on Sub Pop and copies routinely turn up today. Stepping Out is a nice slice of moody US indie, shimmering to order. Unfortunately the mood is ruined by the appearance of the abysmal Deus – along with Gus Gus and Sigur Ros – the trinity of hell. Thinking good thoughts and a new Wedding Present album. On Watusi, Spangle is superb, drenched in a haze of Optigan crackle & “now goodbye!” mournfulness. “Heartbreaking stuff from the eternally left waiting at the bus stop… boy Gedge.” Here we get what sounds like the “rock” version which was originally intended for the LP. It’s very similar to the electric Peel session mix which was recorded in the spring. I love all takes and fondly remember the release weekend. The LP was nowhere to be found in Dublin. Then I went to Borderline Records who were opening a box of new stock. Asked them for Watusi and Derek said “Yeah, I think I ordered one” and pulled it out. Timing.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! We’re back to dourness with Scrawl’s watered-down riot grrrl effort Good Under Pressure before an interesting – albeit harsh – cover version of Black Sabbath’s Lord Of This World courtesy of Helmet. And from the Airheads’ soundtrack we get Dig and the grungeful Curious George Blues. I used watch Curious George on Anything Goes, early ’80s. “I’ve always wanted to be famous” says James Dean Bradfield in Mandi J’s feature. Again, a poignant read as it was the twilight of Richey, the rage against the dying of the light as The Holy Bible rolled into town. PCP live from Glastonbury is suitably fantastic with a savage guitar. I still think that the Faster performance on Top Of The Pops was adrenalin-fueled anarchy, one of the all time greats.

It was album #4 for Kitchens Of Distinction, Cowboys And Aliens. Remember Me is hugely evocative of that summer, a soundtrack to opportunities taken and avoided. Next, a Salad song that doesn’t outstay its welcome. Man With A Box is like an elephant in Ron Black’s, rolling through the decades. Bursting out of York are Shed Seven with the likeable Missing Out. In the text we learn that Rick really likes The Soup Dragons’ This Is Our Art while Paul bravely plumps for Duran Duran’s Seven And The Ragged Tiger – not a popular choice in indie circles back then. Lastly there are 10 minutes devoted to Henry Rollins’ Verbal Diary. In 1994 this came in handy as samples on mixtapes. “I watch, I laugh.”

Favourite tracks
Drugstore – Super Glider

The Wedding Present – Spangle

Lest we forget
Kitchens Of Distinction – Remember Me

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