iJAMMING! album reviews
While the cross-referencing to wine is presented in good humour (and with genuine forethought), the reviews stand seriously on their own; these are the new albums that push my buttons, twist my knobs and otherwise get me off!
Older album reviews are listed here - or use the search engine at left
WHO

BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB

TAKE THEM ON, ON YOUR OWN

(Virgin)

WHAT?

California cult rockers deliver on their potential.

WHY

Like Oasis but not so painfully obvious, Spiritualized but not so pretentiously psychedelic, and the Jesus and the Mary Chain but not so blatantly buried in feedback, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club seem incredibly… well, British. That makes more sense now that it did on the San Francisco trio's impressive eponymous debut, when only drummer Nick Jago's roots in Devon explained their Anglo-fixated sound. But once the British press jumped all over that record and Jago began suffering American visa problems in the post 9/11 world, guitarist/vocalist Peter Hayes and bassist/vocalist Robert Turner joined him in London to make the most of it all.

There they recorded Take Them On, On Your Own and thankfully, they didn't allow their star status on the scene to distract them from their mission. For BRMC are very much a band with a sense of purpose: Take Them On, On Your Own is an album of barely restrained fury at a time of much confusion, not just politically, but also in the world of their beloved rock'n'roll, which is enjoying its umpteenth rejuvenation even as it fails to find any hidden chords.

BRMC themselves make little attempt to reinvent the wheel. They shroud themselves in the cloak of their influences, for which see the references in the first sentence and add in some of what once made American rock transcendent: the simplistic fury of the Stooges, the dark guitar work of Television, and occasionally the hazy romanticism of the Doors. (I wish I could think of more contemporary comparisons but so much current American rock lacks BRMC's psychedelic secrecy; the best I can do is note that they hail from the same San Francisco scene as gave us the Stratford 4.)

Take Them On, On Your Own is generally faster, harder and louder than its predecessor, but though it's a little long and falters at times, it rarely gets carried away with itself. The songs are still structured around simple chord structures, layers of fuzz and the repetition of a vocal motif: "You're ha ha high babe, can't you keep it on the ground, keep it on the ground" is just about the lyrical extent of the four-minute plus 'Ha Ha High Babe'. And often these vocals are buried deliberately deep: on the personal-political 'Generation', Hayes' line "I don't feel at home in this generation" is quickly followed by the apparently contradictory "I don't feel alone in this generation," while the words in between are almost impossible to decipher from the surrounding wall of noise. But that's alright: for all that some of their song titles suggest simplicity, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club understand the importance of mystery. It's what makes them distinctive rather than derivative.
PRIME CUTS
All fans of BRMC's debut will immediately want to know if there's a song to match that record's 'Whatever Happened to My Rock'n'Roll (Punk Song)'? The answer is yes, and it's in the exact same place, third track in. 'We're All In Love' is fast and furious, yet typically opaque: the singalong chorus "We're all in love with something" is complemented by the occasional interjection "I'm in love without you." The openers 'Stop' and 'Six Barrel Shotgun' precede this stand-out at an equally intense pace, while elsewhere, 'Generation' and 'US Government' are the titles bound to inspire most press coverage.
WINE?
It's fired-up and furious. but it understands restraint. It's for the everyday believer inbudget-conscious tradition. And though it's clearly international, it's American at heart. Cline's California Zinfandel 2001, hails from the same State as BRMC, and the same State of Mind, offering intensity, balance, and a sense both of history and purpose.
WHO

GROOVE ARMADA
LOVEBOX
(Jive Electro)

WHAT
Everything you wanted from a modern dance act – but were afraid to ask for.

WHY

Groove Armada's last album, the somewhat erratic Goodbye Country, Hello Nightclub will now be looked on as having fulfilled the transitory intention of its title. For with Lovebox, Andy Cato and Tom Findlay appear to have found themselves in a place of some rare repute: as dance music jack-of-all-trades and masters of the lot. Certainly, this is an act far removed from the laid-back ambient-meisters who found international renown with 'At The River.' And while their other acclaimed singles - 'If Everybody Looked The Same,' 'I See You Baby', 'Superstylin' and 'My Friend' - all served notice that Groove Armada were about more than Patti Page samples and backward trombones, nothing until now suggested that Findlay and Cato could simultaneously cover so many bas(s)es, let alone host seven different singers on one album, all while maintaining a clear identity and sense of purpose.

There are several reasons why this is GA's finest work to date - and one of the better dance-dominated records of recent years. There's the enormous musical variety which represents a healthy refusal to be pigeon-holed; the production, which is muscular even on the ballads (suggesting that this album means business even when it's chillin'); the vocals, which are uniformly superb regardless of who supplies them; the mostly live instrumental performances; and of course, as at the heart of any classic, the songs.

PRIME CUTS
You want Clash-style funked-up street-hop? Check 'Madder', sung by M.C. M.A.D. of 'Superstylin' renown.) You want to hear Richie Havens, now surely in his sixties, singing a modern soul ballad? Try 'Hands of Time.' Keen to hear Neneh 'whatever-happened-to-her' Cherry at her rawest and funkiest? It's here: 'Think Twice.' Up for some downtempo disco gospel? Tim Hutton delivers Bobby Gillespie-like lines on 'Tunin' In.' Oh, and fancy closing out with a euphoric modern ska-like-ska-should-be fest? That would be M.C. M.A.D. again on 'But I Feel Good.' Rare is the post-rave album with nary a single bum track, but Lovebox is indeed that rarity. A bonafide statement of brilliance.
WINE?
It's classy, profound, user-friendly, and with its myriad vocalists manages the unlikely task of balancing fruity femininity alongside male muscularity. It delivers with enormous confidence yet it manages to assume some subtlety. Such an album deserves one of my favorite wines with similarly approachable, rewarding and affordable attributes: the Domaine Louis Chèze, Cuvée Ro-Rée, 1999 from Saint Joseph in the Rhone.


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What's new in iJamming!...
(Last updated
Fri, Aug 29, 2003 4:12 pm)

JOE STRUMMER: A TRIBUTE
INTERPOL in concert
2002: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
Ten Major Memories and a number of lists
FEATURED ALBUM:
LOVEBOX by GROOVE ARMADA
Featured Mix CD:
Mixed Live by CARL COX
NEW! From the Jamming! Archives: The Jam
Interviewed in 1979
NEW: The iJamming! Interview: UNDERWORLD
"I got it in my head that I was going to die in a cheesy hotel room covered in cat's piss." NOW WITH LIVE PHOTOS
New! Coming and Going
Chapter 3: The Palace
NEW: The iJamming! Interview
RICHARD BUTLER Part 2
NEW! From the Jamming! Archives: Adam Ant
Interviewed in 1978

REMARKS REMADE :
Available Now!
The introduction to the new edition of my R.E.M. biography is here.

A Decade In Dance
BT & BANCO DE GAIA
10 Years (Apiece)
The October Hitlist
30 Albums 10 Songs
HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT
The whole Bloody 1990s cataloge
Last of The Summer Rosês:
Goats Do Roam, Vin Gris de Cigare and Rose of Virginia.
DID BIN LADEN WIN?
10 Reasons To Fear The Worst
From the Jamming! Archives:
PAUL WELLER
interviewed in 1978
"A number one single would be a bit scary."
LEVI'S STROKES EARS
New York's rock'n'roll rescuers play Lowlife - loudly
LUNA at SOUTHPAW
Local legends and international influence come home to party
THE AUGUST HITLIST:
28 Albums Rocking Our World
THE TWO ARE ALRIGHT:
The Who at Madison Square Garden
AREA 2:
A wash-out
24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE
The Movie
The Party
THE HOOTENANNY REVUE REVIEW:
Cedell Davis, Tuatara, and The Minus 5 atthe Knitting Factory
WILSON PICKETT:
Still 'A Man And A Half'
THE JULY HITLIST
30 Albums, 5 Songs, 5 books and a handful of movies
TIMOTHY WHITE
An obituary by Chris Charlesworth
The REZILLOS:
Back On The (Flying Saucer) Attack
THE JUNE HITLIST
30 Albums, 10 Songs, 5 books and a handful of movies.
MAY MUSINGS
Eight Days in A Week's Music:
Ed Harcourt, Vines, Candy Butchers, Timo Maas, Ashley Casselle & Adam Freeland, Aerial Love Feed, and enough little club nights to shake several sticks at.
LONDON MUSING
Tony's (lengthy) trip down nostalgia lane from his visit home at the end of April. Stop-offs include Death Disco, old Jamming! Magazines, life-long friendships, road trips to Brighton, Damilola Taylor and political frustration, Morrissey-Marr, Zeitgeist, Oasis, Dexys, Primal Scream, the current British music scene and more.
The iJamming! interview:
CARL COX
"'Acid Trax' by Phuture came out and I was just 'Okay, forget all hip hop and all old school rare groove right here, this is it.'"
GOLDEN SHOT
hostess 'Lee Patrick' recalls her time as Keith Moon's amour
HEDONISM:
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
The iJAMMING! interview:
DAVID SYLVIAN
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
The iJAMMING! chat:
MARK PERRY

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES
TRAVIS.
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
LLOYD COLE
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
The full iJamming! Contents