Chemistry Set – “Live And Let Live”
/ “A House Is Not A Motel” (7” coloured vinyl – Fruits de Mer
The last time I reviewed The Chemistry Set for Tasty Fanzine
I referred to them as ‘veteran psychedelic archivists’, now with
these two reinterpretations of tracks taken from Love’s third
and finest album, the influential ‘Forever Changes’, originally
released in 1967, they achieve something more akin to alchemy,
deftly managing to be both faithful, evocative homage’s to the
original versions and at the same time a transmutation of the
finest elements of late sixties American psychedelia.
Undaunted by covering their favourite band of all time, The Chemistry
Set approach their all time favourite track by Love, “Live And
Let Live”, with a certain degree of reverence; faithfully retaining
the vibe and structure of the Love version, but with added vocal
harmonies, twin guitars, lightly phased drums and a stroke of
iconoclastic, inspired genius by including a section of “Get Me
To The World On Time” by The Electric Prunes as the track’s outro.
“A House Is Not A Motel” opens with acoustic guitars and the
close vocal harmonies The Chemistry Set have perfected, before
a swirl of phased drums ushers in a whirl of freakout fuzz and
tremolo guitars, until the track closes, not with the abruptness
of the original, but an explosion followed by a brief, deft reference
to the Spanish guitar part that graces the Doors, “Spanish Caravan”,
from their “Waiting For The Sun” album.
Both tracks are only available as part of the forthcoming “7
And 7 Is” boxed set of seven 45’s, featuring seven bands from
the Fruits de Mer label covering songs from their favourite American
psychedelic bands of the 60’s. Released on September 22nd, this
is a package that is clearly intended and rightly destined to
be a collector’s item. Buy it while you still can.
James Yorkston - 'Great Ghosts'
Seems like everybody's rallying around on Scottish retro-folkie
James Yorkston's latest single 'Great Ghosts', from his current
album The Cellardyke Recording And Wassailing Society, also released
this month. Principally, it's a duet with KT Tunstall, a rather
upbeat "mocking lament" with hints of the Kirsty MacColl/Shane
MacGowan 'Fairytale Of New York', with Yorkston's fellow travellers
The Pictish Trail providing backing and Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor
wrapping the whole package up in a sauntering Bossanova-type mix.
There's also an excellent video to accompany the single, a stop-motion
animation directed by Marry Waterson from the esteemed Waterson's
folkclan. It's more of a way into the album, a collaborative effort
which solidifies Yorkston's claim to be one of our great contemporary
folk artists. As an interesting aside, it's the first time I ever
heard Tunstall use profanity ... and all the better for it!
Segal - 'Manipulator'
It's not a bad idea, applying the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours
rule to rock music: Ty Segall not only took a year out of his
schedule and headed for Northeast LA to write songs for his latest
album Manipulator, but when he came to record them at The Dock,
a Sacramento studio run by producer-engineer Chris Woodhouse,
he took the academic's cue to keep going. Something like the Brian
Wilson school of recording: “The idea was to focus more on one
thing for a long period of time,” said Segall. “Usually I’ll spend
six months writing a record and then I’ll record it. This record
I wanted it to be the opposite,” so he produced, as he puts it,
“A Tony Visconti kind of record.” Segall plays most of the instruments
and it all sounds like a blast as he crams more and more riffs
into the same guitar space to take his garage punk stratospherically.
The title track will whet your appetite, gothic-sounding psychedelic
organ matched with a hard-driving beat on the lead-in, the song
then really building with a riff not unlike Queens Of The Stone
Age, all eventually swallowed up in various electronic pyrotechnics
and Segall's not inconsiderable vocal talents ... he's using his
latest tour (the publicity heralds it as "The Segall has
landed", clever, eh?!) to plug the new material as much as
possible. It's a hell of a record, which sees the Segall musical
jugganaut marching on, although he doesn't actually reach Britain
Chills - 'Molten Gold'
The Chills seem to be back on track after a long hiatus, following
last year's neat live album Somewhere Beautiful, a string of concert
dates making up a sort of mini-European tour, which took in various
festival appearances and even a session for Mark Riley on BBC
Six Music. 'Molten Gold' is really the band's first new material
since 1996's Sunburnt album, originally released as a digital
download last year, but now receiving it's proper release in time
for the band's upcoming album Silver Bullets, probably due out
early in 2015 record company-permitting. For the uninitiated,
The Chills are from Dunedin in New Zealand and were part of the
Flying Nun roster of bands in the 80s and 90s, like The Bats,
The Clean and The Moles. They have always been fronted by mercurial
songwriter Martin Phillipps who remains the only orginal member,
a sort of NZ last-man-standing equivalent of Mark E. Smith of
The Fall, except Phillipps has a load of tunes! The single is
full of the band's characteristically 90s guitar band swagger
(think Lloyd Cole & The Commotions or Echo & The Bunnyman,
for example), gliding along gracefully, but a special mention
should go to Erica Stichbury the violinist who 'colours' the overall
sound very nicely, indeed! The release coincides with Phillipps'
50th birthday, and it's backed with a well-known early Chills
number, 'Pink Frost' which has been re-recorded on several occasions
previously which gives you an idea of Phillipps' overall musical
philosophy of adapting the band's sound for the present. If the
single is any indication of the album's tenor we're in for a real
Afghan Whigs – Every Little Thing
She Does Is Magic (Sub Pop)
It’s a somewhat strange proposition; one of alt-rock’s all time
hippest bands, The Afghan Whigs (back with this years fantastic
Do The Beast) covering one of rocks most often derided artists.
But say what you want about Sting (and plenty of people have)
he did write some decent songs, and this is one of the Police’s
The Afghan Whigs don’t so much as cover Every Little Thing She
Does Is Magic as break it down and strip it back. The minimalistic,
snare heavy drum sound is complimented by the plucked guitar rhythms,
replacing the synth sounds of the Police version. It lacks the
upbeat bridge to the original and the chorus loses some of its
catchy pop power, but the flow of the song is good. So much so
there’s little definition between each section: unlike the down/up/down
emotional dynamic of the original.
The cover feels like you’d imagine the Police demo version to
sound, except with the added impetus of Greg Dulli’s superb vocal
delivery. As if Sub Pop released the Police. Or essentially like
an average Afghan Whigs track. It’s pretty good, and certainly
an interesting, imaginative song choice. But there’s plenty of
better fare on the Whigs newest album. For a band known for their
cover versions too, there are plenty of superior ones out there.