Saturday, 28 February 2015

Mercury Rev All Is Dream


Mercury Rev All Is Dream


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Moody, majestic, and unpredictable, All Is Dream plays like Deserter's Songs' evil twin, polarizing that album's gently trippy, symphonic pop into paranoid and exuberant extremes that range from the eerie lullaby "Lincoln's Eyes" to the giddy show-tune-in-search-of-a-musical "A Drop in Time." Starting with the symphonic grandeur of "The Dark Is Rising," the album's ambitious, self-indulgent vibe recalls '60s and '70s psych and prog rock concept albums as well as the band's own expansive body of work. The first half of All Is Dream journeys through the band's dark side with songs like the brooding "Tides of the Moon," which pits Jonathan Donahue's spooked, singsong vocals against appropriately unearthly theremins, glockenspiels, and organs, while the second half's "Nite and Fog" and "Little Rhymes" sound twice as sunny compared to the preceding weirdness. The contrast between the album's halves is so sharp that it seems designed for vinyl; flipping this record over would be immensely satisfying. Though nothing on All Is Dream is as immediate as Deserter's Songs' "Goddess on a Hiway" or "Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp," this album may be stronger as a whole, moving gracefully from singer/songwriter ballads like the beautiful "Spiders and Flies" to guitar-driven epics like "You're My Queen" and "Hercules." An unfashionably self-indulgent and earnest album, All Is Dream certainly isn't for everyone, and may not even be for some Mercury Rev fans, but in its own personal, insular way, it's another triumph for the band.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Pixies Doolittle


Pixies Doolittle


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I’m not sure if the word “maturation” applies to the Pixies and their 2nd release, Doolittle. If by maturing you mean becoming more honest or sincere then no, this band is too “hip” for that. Yet, there is something about their sophomore album that makes it sound more serious than their debut. Perhaps it’s the several normal sounding songs, no more pointless dialogues like You ***in’ Die! Or perhaps it’s that this album rocks a little bit more and has some real aggression in spots, unlike the complete goof-off manner of Surfer Rosa. However, one big difference from it’s former is that it has no filler. 15 tracks, none which take themselves too seriously, none which taunt the listener with elitist inaccessibility, and all that have something to say. However, one thing hasn’t changed about these college rockers: the lyrics. Slicing up eyeballs, Girlie so groovy goes the verse of the first track, Debaser. The album opener is referring to the 1920s movie “Un Chien Andalou.” The movie was directed by a group of artists going against what made a movie. It had no script, narrative, or proper actors. The song’s verse replicates a scene from the movie where a man is forced to slice the eyeballs out of a girl’s sockets (how lovely!). The song itself is about Black, after seeing this movie, wanting to live by it. He saw it as a movie that brought down the quality of the cinematic industry in general, and he too wanted to be the “Debaser” of the music industry. Despite this abstract song theme, the music is quite upbeat and fun. Consisting of an anthemic bass line, roaring guitar leads, and Black screaming out nonsense, it, in a sense, is the perfect album opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album. As I mentioned above, Doolittle set the standard for aggression in this new alternative genre. Tame is probably the Pixies’ most aggressive song. Actually it’s more about its transitions than aggressiveness, consisting of a quiet verse and then a chorus screaming YOU’RE TAAAAAAAME. Transitions like these are what influenced latter day Grunge/ Alternative artists. The bridge also contains heavy breathing and a girl squealing Uh Huh, Uh Huh; very primal. This, according to Black, is supposed to be a “sexual representation” and is violently portrayed. This goes on until he goes back to repeat his brutal screams of TAAAAAAAAME. Wave of Mutilation, despite its name, seems to be a harmless surf rock tune. However the lyrics are dark, inspired by an incident when a Japanese businessman committed suicide by driving off a bridge into the ocean, with both his kids and wife inside. It’s a very sinister theme, but the music anything but. Starting with a foot stomping, chain-saw buzzing riff, and then Black refraining You think I’m dead, but I sail away on a Wave of Mutilation… I Bleed starts off with a slightly distorted bass line, adds hip/hop like drum beat, then a very low-key guitar lead. The music drops off, except the bass and Black harmonizes with Kim singing As loud as hell, a ringing bell. The harmonizing is incredibly uneven, but it suits the track, which itself is uneven. The whole song consists of this bizarre harmonizing, including a bridge where Black is struggling to scream as his voice is overpowered by an almost-whispering woman. The next song is quite the opposite, containing Black and Deal’s best vocal performance. Here Comes Your Man is a simple pop tune, which at first glance appears to be a love song (but is actually about an atomic bomb). However, it’s executed so well, it could have very well been done by The Beatles! If you disagree, listen to the You’ll never wait so long… bridge and tell me your opinion (which I could honestly care less about haha). The abrasive Dead, similar to I Bleed, is filled with out of tune guitar bends, replicating the sound of a siren, with Black’s vocals sounding like he’s shouting them through a megaphone. However, the chorus sounds like your typical power pop song. It's weird how many songs on here are dealing with violence, pain, and death - and yet how they treat these subjects as if they were all locked inside a dollhouse. When listening to the tracks mentioned above, I occasionally wonder if these guys were just parodying Goth-rock. Indeed, there are several elements of parody in Doolittle, but it would be wrong to reduce it to pure parody. Besides, they occasionally bust out a normal-sounding song in this midst of craziness. Monkey Gone to Heaven, which is the closest thing on here to a ballad, is an emotional and deep song. The title explains the theme of the song itself. The music creates an atmosphere as being depressing/ woeful, however how can it with such an immature subject? Well, the emotion that is put into those lines This monkey’s gone to Heaven paired with the backing cellos and melody makes up for it. Another highlight of this song is the bridge where the music drops off and Black whispers, If man is five, then the devil is six. Then he begins to scream If the devil is six, then God is seven! It creates a beautiful climax to end the track. Mr. Grieves starts with a reggae-like guitar picking. Hope everything is all right Black says with an evil snicker. It starts off slow, relaxed and slowly builds up energy until Black starts asking frantically Do you have another opinion? This song represents an insane man, who is grieving over someone’s death but is trying to hide it, explaining Black’s almost defensive attitude. Crackity Jones is the fastest/ most schizophrenic rocker on the album. It begins with a speedy guitar riff and Black introducing our character. Then a snare fill leads into the chorus with Black rapidly screaming the title of the track. This song is so incredibly fast and short, it could almost be qualified as filler (gasp). However, it couldn’t be considering how different it is from the other tracks. The purpose of Doolittle is to prove that the Pixies can master any genre, no matter how absurd the presentation is. Next comes, La La Love You, which is even more straightforward - composed of great melody - with a wonderful electric guitar line lifting it up and lyrics that only betray irony when they go First base, Second base, third base, homerun! It’s also hilarious to hear it start of with such a foot-stomping drum intro with Francis shouting Shake your butt! and then turn into a sappy-dappy love song. No. 13 Baby is anything than its previous track. The uneven guitar bends are enough to make one grind their teeth, and his squealing is even more repulsive. The song even becomes “dirtier” as you hear Black sneer Got a tattooed tit, say number 13. However there is a piece of melody as demonstrated by the outro solo that is, needless to say, one of the finest uses of delay ever. There Goes My Gun begins with Francis shouting YOU HOE! Pretty different from the sappy-dappy La La Love You, eh? This leads into roaring guitars and Black refraining There goes my gun. I can’t go into much detail about this surf-rocker, but it introduces the idea of the next track very well. Hey is yet another emotional song, like Monkey Gone to Heaven. However, there is one huge difference between the two; the emotion put into this song is SINCERE. Though the lyrics could be considered crude (whores are common subjects), the despair that Black puts into the line We’re chained is one of the most “real” things I’ve ever heard. You can feel his struggle, how desperate he really is. The guitar work is also beautiful, fading in and out of solos. This track is an overlooked gem, and could be the best on the album. Silver is also a very emotional song, but it’s doesn’t deal with grieving or despair, it represents loss of hope. It creates a depressing view of slavery, and is mimicking slave songs. In this land of strangers there are dangers sings Kim in a high-pitched voice. The powerful hit of the tom creates an echo, almost that of a cave, keeping a steady beat. The music is slow and lifeless, unlike any of the tracks on here. There isn’t even life in Kim’s voice, who sounds like she’s about to break down into tears. Gouge Away is a great closing track; filled with transitions and previous sounds used throughout the album. It starts with a bass and drum rhythm section with Black saying softly You can gouge away. Guitar feedback comes into play and then he climaxes screaming with the little energy he has left. The guitar from the chorus keeps repeating until the last chord is played to end the album. Overall, Doolittle is a monster of an album, breaking the boundaries of music as we knew it. However, people criticize it for being a “nonsense” album. “Their music had no real message,” some critics might analyze. However, the important thing to realize is that you CAN’T analyze it; it’s impressionism. When you hear a song like Monkey Gone to Heaven, you can’t try to analyze it and make a message out of it. Don’t ask yourself, “What does the monkey represent? Why is the monkey going to heaven? Is the monkey a commentary on the issue of the constantly evolving disputes over religion?” The answer is NO, the Pixies didn’t set out to have a message or start a revolution; they merely set out to make music for people to enjoy. Which brings me back full circle to the question at the beginning of the review – why does Doolittle sound more mature? Because it tackles more mature matters. There’s an unspoken idea underlying each song. Sure the ideas might be nonsense or immature, but when I listen to this, I don’t feel like I’m listening to a “parody” or a “nonsense” album. It’s actually pretty “serious.” It’s a hilarious, ironic, self-mocking, post-modernist, serious album. Yeah, they're kind of as rare as a breed of white rhinoceros, but they do exist, and Doolittle is one of them. Hey, why do you think it gets a “classic” status? For the halo around the monkey's head?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Julian Cope Saint Julian


Julian Cope Saint Julian


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Also Available Saint Julian Reissue.
A switch to Island Records resulted in the best possible start -- not merely a generally fine album but a simply fantastic hit U.K. single, "World Shut Your Mouth." Nothing to do with the record of the same name but definitely possessing much of the same energy, it's a great slice of modern rock, with a crisp arrangement and punchy performance from Cope and his band. Skinner and Fried drummer Chris Whitten reappear, while bassist James Eller and keyboardist Double DeHarrison fill out the lineup. Kate St. John once again adds cor anglais here and there, one of her best moments being the bright charge of the title track. Together they tackle a set of songs notably less insular than much of the Fried material, with full-on performances to match. One song shows that best of all -- "Shot Down," which originally appeared on Fried and here becomes a swaggering, pounding rocker with keyboards adding to the impact. More than ever before in his solo career, Cope sounds like he's performing songs meant to be heard live, as the charging "Trampoline" and "Spacehopper" show. There's an almost finger-snapping, swinging vibe to a number of the performances that recall Teardrop Explodes days without trying to simply re-create that sound -- he's not trying to revisit the past, there's no need. A few numbers sound a bit too cold and crisp to work entirely -- "Planet Ride" is arena soul/rock that sounds like something Robert Palmer would have done around the same time, lyrics aside. A couple of other moments like that crop up, but with the balance skewed more to joys like Cope's in-your-face vocal on "Pulsar" and the lengthy final track "A Crack in the Clouds," Saint Julian is another winner.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Everything But The Girl Amplified Heart


Everything But The Girl Amplified Heart

Also Available Amplified Heart Deluxe Edition 

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Though a few songs here can be classified as “pretty But uneventful,” most of Amplified Heart is breathtakingly melodic and beautiful. Led by the sultry vocals of Tracy Thorn, this somber album paints vivid scenes of romantic longing and confusion. Ben Watt constructs the seductively sparse musical settings, and he’s also a fine singer himself who duets with Thorn effectively on the desperate “Walking To You” and “25th December,” a lonely acoustic song. Other evocative and catchy highlights are “Troubled Mind” and “Get Me,” while “We Walk The Same Line” is a rare pledge of devotion on an album of sad relationship songs. However, the real showstopper here is the devastatingly sad “Missing,” which later became a hit single when it was remixed by Todd Terry. For the record, I much prefer this version, which has a haunted emptiness that the other one doesn’t quite capture, though Terry’s more danceable version foreshadowed the sound that Everything But The Girl (EBTG) would further explore on Walking Wounded. With Watt having overcome Churg-Strauss Syndrome, which required four operations and had him near death, and with Thorn’s recent work with Massive Attack having increased the duo’s profile, EBTG emerged triumphant with their finest release.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Killing Joke Night Time Remastered


Killing Joke Night Time


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"Night Time" was when Killing Joke made the transition from their raw post-punk sound of the first four albums and entered the domain of new wave! One might assume that this move was made strictly on commercial basis, since the punk scene was almost completely crushed by 1985 while the new wave era was just entering its more mature state. Still, just as I mentioned in the review of the band's debut album, Killing Joke have rarely adopted foreign influences to their sound without being completely certain that they would be put to good use. The album's opening title track is easily one of my top 5 favorite Killing Joke compositions. It features a steady beat perfectly complemented by the bass and guitar sounds, which makes it seem like a not so distant relative of the brilliant David Bowie track "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)". The first 10 seconds of "Darkness Before Dawn" always reminds me of the Sparks track "Your Call's Very Important To Us. Please Hold." (from Lil' Beethoven) even though the rest of the composition is anything but a Sparks show! The track is very dark, slightly gothic while still keeping the rhythm surprisingly energetic all throughout its five minutes running time. I should probably mention that this album was one of the band's biggest hits and its popularity can pretty much be summed up by the song "Love Like Blood". This is as new wave as Killing Joke would get on this record and considering the overall high quality of all these eight compositions, it's only natural that this slightly softer track would appeal to the general audience at the time. I'm not really a huge fan of "Love Like Blood" but I can definitely see the appeal. "Kings And Queens" and especially "Tabazan" is where we once again get back to the heavy post-punk sound with the latter being very close to the industrial metal label that Killing Joke would be labeled under throughout the '90s and on. "Multitudes" and "Europe" continue the new wave sound of "Love Like Blood" but with more energy added to the mix. Even though I appreciate the effort, these two tracks end up not feeling as memorable as the rest of the material on "Night Time". "Eighties" ends the album on another upbeat note and it's pretty difficult for me to listen to this track without feeling like Killing Joke got a raw deal when Nirvana's "Come As You Are" became a huge hit, while this little gem remained a forgotten piece of '80s memorabilia. That's all I'm gonna say about this whole controversy. "Night Time" was my introduction to Killing Joke and I honestly could not have asked for a better start to this highly rewarding relationship! Unfortunately I cannot give this record the 5/5 rating due to the fact that 'the band' would only get better in the next few years

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Billy Bragg Don't Try This At Home Japan




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“Don’t Try This At Home” is the third album from the “Bard Of Barking” using a full band, and a bunch of usual suspects. Michael Stipe and Peter Buck from R.E.M join him for a little vocal and mandolin tussle, ex Smith Johnny Marr plays and produces two songs, and the sultry tones of Kirsty Maccoll add warmth to some of the more stark numbers. Bragg’s songs sound more ethereal, almost traditional using a full band, and a world away from his earlier neo punk rants. There’s no doubt that Bragg is a superb lyricist, with a take on subjects hardly ever transferred to popular music, but his earlier works were at times empty and raw, and the introduction of a full time band fills the songs with fuller melodies that works well throughout. Bragg covers all bases, and this would lyrically be his most diverse album. A deliberate move away from the Marxist preaching he was well known for; he covers relationships, his father’s death, protégé sportsmen who turn to religion, and sex. The album builds around the hit single “Sexuality”; a rambling pop workout which is both funny and full of self parody. His words are all ardent dreaming of the rock Star lifestyle Billy never adhered to. “I’ve had relations with women of all nations” is Billy just dreaming, and “I look like Robert De Niro, I drive a Mitsubishi Zero” couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many enjoyable moments including the opening anti Fascist Soap Box drama “Accident Waiting To Happen”, the story of Soccer wonder kid Peter Knowles, who gave his career up for Jehovah on “God’s Footballer”, “You Woke Up My Neighbourhood”, and the lonely “Dolphins”, a rare cover. For this reviewer the best song is his lament to his father on “Tank Park Salute”, where the emotion in his voice rips your heart when he sings “It’s always dark at the top of the stairs” and “You were so tall, how could you fall?” Should you look for an introduction to the music of Billy Bragg “Don’t Try This At Home” is a great place to start, where raw beauty is unassuming, and intelligence is never contrived to mean anything but warm honesty.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Jesus Jones Doubt Japan


Jesus Jones Doubt


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Jesus Jones's Liquidizer was one of the most assured debuts of recent years, an exhilarating but solid presentation of a band who, though mindful of modern musical developments such as samplers, refused to allow their essential guitar-band nature to be swamped by keyboard technology. Unlike the Pop Will Eat Itselfs and Gaye Bykers that occupied similar post-modern territory, their raw rock attack was always in the service of shiny, user-friendly pop tunes. Here it seems, was an individual and imaginative alternative to the burgeoning baggy consensus. Jesus JonesSince then, a certain desperation seems to have crept into the Jones camp, discernible in their all-purpose hipness - the skateboards, the samplers, the Mary Chain guitar washes, the hooded paisley tops - and now in the variegated nature of their second album, which lacks the solidity and sense of unity of the debut. It's as if, wary of the ephemerality of pop trends, they've approached that difficult second album as a kind of portfolio of possible stylistic variations, ranging from the marginally baggy (Right Here, Right Now and International Bright Young Things, unsurprisingly their two most recent singles) to the slack-strung, legs-akimbo hard rockin' (Two And Two and the opening rush of Trust Me, which brandishes sturdy punk roots). Call it cowardice, call it insurance: the way is open for them to be regarded simultaneously as fashionable indie-dance fellows over here and post-punk hard rock types in America - which might not be that stupid, judging by the poor performance of contemporary Mancunians in the latter marketplace. Meanwhile, the only really all-round pop presence on the album belongs to Real Real Real. The sad part of this is that though Doubt - an apt title - has plenty of fine moments, it has effectively reduced the sense of purpose and direction of the debut to a series of textural flourishes. Chief among these is Mike Edwards' slurred delivery , so drenched in echo and ADT that at times it sounds as if it's running backward - an effect heightened on I'm Burning by reversing the attack and delay characteristics of the accompanying drum beats. The sampling that was such an integral part of the debut, however, is now so integrated it's barely noticeable: only Stripped features the kind of exhilarating sound-collage maelstrom that could stand muster as a Public Enemy backing track, and in truth it's the only track here with a substantial "What's that bloody row?" factor. But there are compensations, especially in the album's quieter moments. Nothing To Hold Me plays a deadpan background rap vocal against a low-key mood-music backdrop, the result being rather like conscience nagging at the back of the mind. The album's finale, Blissed, uses a gently rolling pulse and occasional electronic bleeps, swelling into a mist of ethereal synth-tones for the chorus. The effect is numbing, an abrupt suspension, as if suddenly forced to tread water. An appropriate end.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Lo Fidelity Allstars How To Operate With A Blown Mind Japan




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Part rock and roll, part punk-pop, and mixed with hip-hop and dance beats, the Lo Fidelity All Stars’ sound included elements from a variety of different musical genres. After the release of the group’s first single, 1997’s ‘Kool Rok Bass, ’ the All Stars became an overnight sensation in their home base of London, England, and throughout the United Kingdom. The group was regularly featured in two of the nation’s well-established music magazines, Melody Maker and New Musical Express (NME). The latter publication also presented the band with the Philip Hall On Award for Most Promising New Band at the annual NME Brat Awards in 1998. Several singles later and following the release of their full-length debut album in 1998 (released in the United States in 1999), the All Stars seemed well on their way to worldwide stardom. However, by the end of 1999, the All Stars’ future appeared uncertain, largely resulting from major line-up changes and canceled tour dates. The Lo Fidelity All Stars formed early in 1996. At the time, The Albino Priest (real name Phil) was working at a Tower Records store in London’s Piccadilly area and writing instrumental music and working with samples in his spare time. The unusually pale, thin turntablist (hence the alias “Albino”) had been mixing records for sometime; during his childhood, Priest would earn extra spending money selling mix tapes to his friends. The decision to form a band arose after a beer-fueled night of recording with friend and vocalist/lyricist The Wrekked Train (real name Dave). “I left Dave alone in a room with one of our backing tracks and loads of beer and let him do whatever he wanted,” remembered Priest, as quoted by the All Stars’ unofficial website. “He just got pissed [drunk] and rambled through an echo unit, but it really seemed to fit. After that, we started letting loose on all our tracks.” Train’s vocals would become one of the trademarks of the All Stars’ sound. In the May 31, 1997, issue of Melody Maker, in which the publication named the All Stars’ debut single “Pick of the Week,” columnist Sharon O’Connell called attention to the vocalist’s “impressively deadpan delivery.” Joined by keyboardist Sheriff Jon Stone (real name Matt), drummer/percussionist The Slammer (real name Jonny), and bassist A One Man Crowd Called Gentile (real name Andy), Train and Priest started playing low-key shows around London. Priest explained to Joshua Ostroff in SUNday why the All Stars used nicknames rather than their true identities. “They’re all nicknames that the band have had,” he said. “Also we’re all massive Funkadelic fans, so it’s a tribute to them really. It’s nothing too contrived. It’s just names we had for years and it’s a nod to those bands that have inspired us.” The band found inspiration in other soul and funk musicians as well, including Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, and James Brown. They also praised the hip-hop genre, giving high nods to artists like Rakim and KRS-1. In contrast, the All Stars also cited punk and pop acts like the Sex Pistols, Oasis, the Verve, the Mondays, and the Stone Roses as major influences. Intending to incorporate elements of all the above mentioned musical styles into their overall sound, the All Stars thus refused to be fenced in or labeled. However, they often referred to their music as punk-based. After seeing one of the All Stars’ shows, the Skint Records (a hip Brighton imprint) label managing director, Damian Harris, signed the band to record two singles (the offer was later extended). “I was sent a tape of theirs about 10 months ago, the main track was ’One Man’s Fear, ’ which is now the B-side of the first single,” Harris said, according to the group’s unofficial website. “It was so distinctive, mainly because of the singing, or rather ranting, on it. I went to see them play in a pub in Camden soon after that. It was one of their first gigs and a bit of a mess because they hadn’t quite sorted out their live sound, but they obviously had potential. The show was exciting. They looked like they were going to fall apart any minute. That made them seem like a proper band, like a rock ‘n’ roll band that just happened to be making dance music.” Before entering the studio, the All Stars opened for more established acts in the hopes of gaining a wider audience and building anticipation for their first record. One set of dates included the band’s firsttour of the United Kingdom, for which they opened for the group 18 Wheeler. In addition, the All Stars put their sampling skills to work; they remixed a track for the band Cast, remixed a Pigeon-head single entitled “Battle Flag,” and accepted an offer to do remix work for the band Supergrass. Afteronly one year together and with no recorded work to their credit, the All Stars had already begun to establish a reputation. Nonetheless, Priest was quick to point out that the All Stars weren’t DJs, but rather an up-and-coming act whose focus was to create their own music. As Priest expressed to O’Connell,“I want our tunes to be played at Cream as well as the Heavenly Social [two well-known London night spots]; I want Jeremy Healey to play us at the peak of his party set in the main room, as well as the Chemicals [Chemical Brothers] at the peak of their set in the back room.” The All Stars finally released their first single,“Kool Rok Bass,” in the late spring of 1997. The sample-led song filled with sexual undertones led critics and radio stations to brand them “the Stooges of dance music” or “the dance Stone Roses,” according to Priest, as quoted by O’Connell. Moreover,“Kool Rok Bass” earned the band critical acclaim; the song was named “Single of the Week” by NMEand featured as Melody Maker’s “Pick of the Week.” Alternative rock enthusiasts took to the single and the All Stars as well. “We haven’t got our heads shaved; we know we look like an indie band,” Priest told O’Connell,“but we like that. We’re massively into hip hop and we like the fact that there’s all these new hip hop fans who look at us and think ’what the f**k do they know about all this?’ We supported loads of indie bands when we started out and they used to think because we had a turntable we were going to sound like PWEI. Then we started up and they couldn’t believe it. We like that.” Train further explained,”We’re electricity personified. You knowthose big cables under the road when they cut them off and they’re flapping around? That’s what the album’s going to sound like—so many volts you wouldn’t believe it.” Shortly thereafter, the band released a second single entitled “Disco Machine Gun,” which was taken off the market after only three days because of problems with clearance of a sample taken from the Breeders’ “Cannonball.” However, approximately 8,000 copies were sold to the public, and the single (now a highly collectible item) made the top 40 in the United Kingdom. In February of 1998, the All Stars were presented with the Philip Hall On Award for Most Promising New Band from NME. They edged out such groups as the Beta Band and CampaqVelocet. Two months later, in April, the group released a third single,“Vision Incision,” which included snippets from a night when Train took a dictaphone on a journey through the streets of London. May 25, 1998, saw the release of the All Stars’ highly anticipated debut album in the United Kingdom, How to Operate With a Blown Mind entered the British album chart at number 15, received critical accolades, and sold over 60,000 units in Britain alone. That same year, the band performed numerous live shows, including three tours the United Kingdom, various dates throughout Europe, and a headlining slot at the Glastonbury festival in 1998. Despite the band’s stunning rise, Train, one of the band’s founding members, left the All Stars in December of 1998, citing musical and personal differences. Soon after Train’s departure, keyboardist Sheriff Jon Stone left the group as well. Although The Many Tentacles (real name Martin) replaced Stone on keyboards, the group’s future seemed uncertain.
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