Wednesday, October 24, 2018

SPLODGENESSABOUNDS: THE ALBUMS/Five CD box set reviewed!


SPLODGENESSABOUNDS
THE ALBUMS 
(5CDs/Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records)

Available NOW!

British Punk veterans Splodgenessabounds never had a proper album released in the U.S., which is a shame. Often overlooked when music fans discuss British Punk, Max Splodge and the gang turned Punk on its head and injected a huge amount of humor and fun to the genre. Like a mix of Sham 69, Gruppo Sportivo and Monty Python, the folks in Splodgenessabounds never took themselves too seriously yet they still managed to make some powerful and extremely memorable music. And let’s be honest, there aren’t that many Punk bands that regularly feature a sax player honking away while the power chords fly. Splodge released five studio albums and a load of singles between 1981 and 2001 and pretty much all of it is collected on Captain Oi Records’ five CD set SPLODGENESSABOUNDS: THE ALBUMS. Anyone with even a passing interest in the band can now own over 100 Splodge recordings in one handy-dandy clamshell box.

The band’s blend of Oi and Street Punk is littered with sly nods to classic Rock and Pop with some Country & Western and Folk thrown in for good measure. Oh, and they add the kitchen sink, too. Splodgenessabounds is primarily a Punk outfit but that doesn’t mean that they are bereft of Pop tunes – there are loads of great hooks to be had throughout their catalog. The most fascinating thing about the music here is that, on first listen, the albums are completely unpredictable. They love to take the piss out of almost every musical genre… including Punk! And they really deserve your full attention…


The self-titled debut album begins with a bona-fide Punk Rock Opera (“The Malcolm Opera”) that lasts just under six minutes. It is immediately followed by a great slab of White Reggae entitled “Whimsy Zoom Zoom”. Then comes “It’s That Sound,” a goofy acoustic romp that barely lasts 23 seconds. “I Fell In Love In Love With A Female Plumber From Harlesden NW10” picks up the Punk pace again, complete with sax solo. And the fun just continues from there. Even “Blown Away Like A Fart In A Thunderstorm” is a true Punk classic (or SHOULD be considered as such).  The band even manages to skewer the Queen classic “We Will Rock You” with their own “Porky Scratchings.” Other highlights include “Simon Templar” and the dub version their single “Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps Please.” The album remains a classic… even with all the rude and funny bits. Disc One features the full album plus 15 bonus tracks including the original single version of “Two Pints…” and loads of non-album A and B-sides including “Sox,” which sends up Madness’ “One Step Beyond.” Strangest of all is “Brown Paper,” which consists of nothing but voices chanting (and yelling) ‘Brown paper… I like brown paper’ followed a few tracks later by – Egads! - the dub version of the very same song. Absolutely crazy stuff, indeed. The humor and power draw you in but the hooks stay with you!  Certainly, the most fun you can have at a Punk Rock roller skating event. I mean, if there was such a thing…


The band’s second album (released with a new line-up under the name Splodge) was 1982’s IN SEARCH OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN GUSSETTS, which is another excursion down the same musical avenues – and no genre is safe. With this new line-up, the album sounds more focused without deviating from the Splodge formula. Like the debut, the album swerves between Punk, Glam, Ska, Comedy and Folk/Country… and there’s so much fun to be had. “Overdramatic Songs (In Very Low Voices)” is a Bowie-influenced Punk slam on the New Romantic movement. “Baked Bean” and “A Very Unfunny Comedian” could have fallen off of a Monty Python album. “Graffiti” is a catchy rocker. “Pathetique” is one of their catchiest songs and sounds like it’d be a hoot live. “Mouth And Trousers” gives Madness a run for their money. “We Luve We” is a jaunty Country influenced romp that will stick in your head for days. And it just keeps going from there. From beginning to end, IN SEARCH OF… is a grand old time… and there are eight bonus tracks to boot.


The band didn’t return with a studio album until 1991’s A NIGHTMARE ON RUDE STREET, which saw a change in musical direction. But wait, their two previous albums were filled with many changes in musical directions… so, never mind.  Less Punk than their early recordings, the sense of humor is still present and accounted for. “Touch Of The Rods (A Day In The Life Of A Quireboy)” is a humorous musical swipe at Classic Rock regurgitators like The Quireboys, who were big at the time. “Double Entendres” is a laugh riot and sounds like an average day down the pub. “Lager In The House” is a fun Electro-Funk-Punk-Rap track is a lovable parody of late ‘80s music. “Not Many People Know That” is another jaunty sing-along that sounds like it was written and recorded on a Casio keyboard (and actually works quite well). There are some groovy rockers like “Rude Boy,” “Answers On A Postcard” and “Go The Whole Hog” that seem to embrace a Hard Rock edge but Max Splodge’s vocals bring it right back to their Punk roots. Perhaps not as impactful as their first two albums, the album is still a lot of fun. (Trainspotters note: the album features former Bram Tchaikovsky/Heavy Metal Kids drummer Keith Boyce!) The third CD in this set contains A NIGHTMARE ON RUDE STREET plus the 15-track album LIVE AND LOUD! To be honest, this sounds like it was recorded live in the studio and the audience was crudely dubbed in later.  Oh, and “Pathetique” DOES sound great live! The guys sound like they are having fun but the fake audience is a bit distracting. I’d rather hear the band in this raw state without the canned clapping and screaming…


Nine years passed before Max returned with a new line-up and the 2000 album I DON’T KNOW. The album is a punch in the gut, filled with power chords, hooks, and plenty of humor. Produced by the legendary Dave Goodman, this album picks up where IN SEARCH OF… left off. The stylistic detours are fewer here but the songs are so good that it doesn’t matter. Songs like “I Wouldn’t Lie,” “My Socks Gone Down My Shoe,” “Scrapyard,” “I Don’t Know,” and “Patrick Moore (He Talks To Me)” are great fun. And the silly but jolly “Poochie” is a slice of nonsense that will be an everlasting earworm. Because he discovered that he was a direct descendent of Genghis Khan, Max’s fascination with Mongolia dominates the album – three of the song titles mention Mongolia or Mongols and one track is called “Genghis Khan”. While not a ‘concept’ album, the second half of the album could loosely fall into that category.


Surprisingly, THE ARTFUL SPLODGER quickly followed a year later. Again, produced by Dave Goodman, the album sounds like a direct sequel to I DON’T KNOW (even carrying over the Mongolia theme to a lesser extent). Max and the boys are re-energized and ready to knock your socks of while having loads of fun. “A Fistfull Of Shitters” is a stormer that features some classy toasting during the drum breaks (although some may call it rapping). “667, The Neighbor Of The Beast” is classic Punk with just a twist of Metal (for obvious reasons). The re-recording of “Two Pints Of Lager” is a bit unnecessary but still fun – decades of playing it live has added some interesting changes to the arrangement. Other highlights include “Not As Easy As It Looks,” “Parallel Lines,” “Bloody Disgrace,” “Egg Sandwich,” and “I Don’t Know What Did I Do That For?” Once THE ARTFUL SPLODGER comes to an end, you may be filled with a temporary sadness because the epic Splodge journey has come to an end. However, all you need to do is go 100 or so tracks back to the beginning and start it all over again. If you like Sham 69, Angelic Upstarts, Toy Dolls, early Clash, and Monty Python, then it is time to get your Splodge on!


Keep on truckin',
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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