Friday, July 27, 2012

SPAZ reviews SPEAR OF DESTINY's new 2CD Singles Collection!

     "While he hasn't quite achieved the fame and fortune of his contemporaries, British post-punk icon Kirk Brandon has remained one of the genre's most beloved artists. From his late-‘70s recordings with the Pack to his groundbreaking work with Theatre of Hate between 1980 and 1983, Brandon's unique musical vision gained him an enormous amount of respect from critics and adulation from fans. When he suddenly split up TOH in 1983 and formed Spear of Destiny, it came as a complete shock to those who had followed them from their early singles to their album Do You Believe in the Westworld (produced by the Clash's Mick Jones). But Brandon's musical vision had changed and he needed a new vehicle in order to showcase the next musical step in his career. While not entirely dissimilar to TOH, Spear of Destiny allowed Brandon to both expand and streamline his sound. While not exactly the most commercial of bands during their most successful period in the mid- to late ‘80s, SOD were one of the most unique bands of the era.
     While SOD may not technically be a punk band, or even a post-punk band for that matter, Brandon was still a punk at heart and didn't bother ironing out the rough spots for the sake of commercial consumption. On the other hand, his music was much more accessible than TOH's, introducing him to a larger audience. Although many of his punk fans followed this new venture, many of Spear of Destiny's new fans were either unaware or uninterested in what had come before, which gave Brandon's unique vision a new lease on life.
     The Singles: 1983-1988 is the best SOD collection on the market, and is a must-have for fans and newcomers alike. Disc One focuses on the single versions of every A-side they released during this period, from their Gaelic-tinted debut single "Flying Scotsman" to the slickly produced "Radio Radio" five years later with the addition of a dub version of "Liberator." Covering both their Burning Rome (Sony) and Ten Records (Virgin) output, this is the most complete overview of their singles so far. Some of the recordings sound dated (as ‘80s releases usually do) and slightly over-produced, but the passion behind them is undeniable. "The Wheel," "Come Back," and "Never Take Me Alive" are standouts, but there are no duds here
     If that wasn't enough, Disc Two offers up 12" remixes of most of the tracks on Disc One (including an excellent dub mix of "Come Back," which brings its reggae vibe to the fore) plus an extended mix of "Land of Shame" (from the Outland album). Though some may not have considered SOD a band worthy of many 12" mixes, this second disc is a true revelation.
     Some 30 years after SOD first stepped on-stage, it is a total mystery as to why they are not as fondly remembered as they should be. Perhaps it is because of their ever-changing lineup? Maybe some folks don't care for Kirk Brandon's emotional howling on some of the tracks? Whatever the reason, it's never too late to give them the credit they deserve!"-Stephen SPAZ Schnee/ALL MUSIC GUIDE

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