Saturday, July 6, 2013

Look Back in Anger – Caprice (Criminal Damage Records, 1984)

Sorry things have been a little on the quiet side in The Tombs lately. Life unfortunately has an annoying tendency to interfere with one’s hobbies.

 Never fear though! Starting out in Waterlooville in Hampshire on the south coast of England, in 1979 Look Back in Anger would experience a few line up changes, including losing the keyboards before anything concrete was released.

It would be easy to assume that the band took their name after the 1956 play about a love triangle which gave the world the phrase “angry young men”, but this seems slightly odd for a female fronted band. Perhaps it would be safer to assume that the actual source was David Bowie’s  single of the same name (RCA, 1979)?

Things kick off with the Caprice / Mannequin 7”, (LBA, 1981), swiftly followed by the Foxhunt cassette/7” (Stick It in Your Ear Tapes!, 1982) whose contact listing for various animal rights groups on the rear would leave no one in any doubt as to the group’s stance on the subject matter.

A short hiatus follows before the band reappears in 1984 with the Flowers 7” (Criminal Damage Records) with its title track sounding curiously like Kim Wilde trying her hand at Goth – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Kim Wilde happens to be a little guilty pleasure of mine and one of the first albums I ever bought. Anyone who doesn’t like it can bite me.


This brings us to the focus of this post, the Caprice mini album (or was it an EP?) containing both “Torment” and “Inamorata” from the Flowers 7”, but perversely not including the track “Caprice”.

Listening to this, there’s no ignoring the fact that it’s very much a child of its time. If 80’s alternative was a scent, you’d be able to smell this crew from the other side of the nightclub.

Unfortunately, Caprice is not an especially coherent album. It’s clear that Look Back in Anger had two quite different aspects, a relatively poppy side, and another less accessible one, and they were much the better for it when they adhered to the former. If we take that view, then tracks like “Executioner” and the rather aggressive “Silent Partner”, tend to pale into insignificance here in the face of the real stand outs here of “Gray Sky” and “Inamorata”. That last song is interesting here, not only because it’s substantially longer than the version on the previous single, but also because it includes a bridge in which the band suddenly break into a snippet of “Flowers”.

Even if listening now, this material sounds curiously dated, it is nevertheless clear that, when on the money, Look Back in Anger remain capable of evoking a deliriously wonderful sense of nostalgia.

Gray Sky



The Caprice album would prove to be the last thing Look Back in Anger would record before dissolving.

Jim Newby went on to form the curiously named The Fifteenth whose sole release would be the Andelain 12” (Tanz Records, 1986), with its highlight on the B side being the surprising and delightfully Duran-Duranesque “Marble Shire” and Zig Zag journalist Barbara Ellen, who may possibly have been Jim’s girlfriend at the time, gracing the cover.

He followed on with Splashpool, who as far as I can work out don’t seem to have released anything apart from the video below. He also appears to have been an occasional collaborator with cover version terrorists Brian.

Slashpool – Trash You Baby (watch for cameos from Jon Fatbeast and Mick Mercer)

Mich also seems to have had a busy year appearing in Mankinds Audio Development with Rob Hickson and Pete Waddleton of Play Dead fame on the one-off Sunfeast 12” (Criminal Damage Records, 1984), doing backing vocals for “Gimmick” on The Cult’s debut album Dreamtime (Beggars Banquet, 1984), and turning up again a few years later working with Balaam and the Angel on the She Knows 7” (Virgin, 1986). Later she would depart for the US, in company of her boyfriend, some chap called Billy Duffy.

Track Listing:
1. Gray Sky
2. Silent Partner
3. Executioner
4. Torment
5. The Dark
6. Inamorata

Line Up: Mich Ebling (vocals), Jim Newby (guitar), Simon Tufnail (bass), Chris Pickford (drums)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The March Violets – Made Glorious (Self-Released, 2013)

And so it’s finally out, well, almost. Made Glorious is one of those things that makes you proud to have been involved in a DIY fund raising issue through Pledge Music that began something crazy like two years ago.

I’ll be the first to admit to some hesitation after the Trinity EP (self-released, 2007) failed to light my fire, but hey, what’s a few dollars towards helping a genuinely alternative band you really like in an age when record companies are much more interested in instantaneous shallow pap like Niki Minaj, Nickelback or that Beiber thing?

Happily, what we have here is indeed glorious; a massive 16 track double album, including largely new versions of the album preview if you will, the Love will Kill You EP (self-released, 2011) and a whole heap of new goodies.

This is quite clearly The March Violets of old, and yet they have unsurprisingly subtly grown over the intervening years. Part of this is undoubtedly down to advances in technology allowing for vastly superior production, but also, the material presented here with more varied instrumentation is somehow more multi-textured than what folks who came to know and love the Violets from the Botanic Verses compilation (Jungle, 1993) may be used to.

There’s no filler here, all is wonderfully catchy from the title track “Made Glorious”, “We are all Gods III”, “Tokyo Flow”, “Dress 4 U” and of course, the unspeakably brilliant “Road of Bones”. Other tracks like “Billion 3”, “London’s Drowning” and “2024” come bearing political subtexts which could have been annoying had they been delivered in an in-your-face style like anarcho punk bands, say, Crass for example, but are actually pleasingly subtle. 

They’ve lost none of their humour either, which is very welcome in a genre where many bands are so tediously po-faced. It’s easy to imagine the serial killer ode “Of Roses” playing as the final titles roll on a particularly black comedy, and the rollicking “Ramming Speed” jogs merrily along in a vein not unlike what one might expect from Andy Prieboy. There’s a moment when things go weirdly electro, but the punch line quickly becomes apparent when the track listing reveals the song to be “Discoboy Must Die”.

At time of writing, Made Glorious has only been made available to those who pledged.  Very soon however,  it will be available by mail order, initially in a strictly limited 2 CD edition, albeit with different cover art than that shown above.

The Violets have requested that none of the pledgers upload or distribute their advance copies of Made Glorious, and from what I can see on Youtube, so far everyone has very graciously complied with the request. Just to give you a small taste of what you’re in for however, here’s two little snippets.

 We are all Gods (Live in Glasgow 2012, presumably a bootleg, but a very good one) 

Dandelion King

Buy this – you won’t regret a cent.

Track Listing:
1.    Made Glorious
2.    Billion3
3.    A Room With No View
4.    Of Roses
5.    Tokyo Flow
6.    Ramming Speed
7.    Little Punk Thing
8.    Dandelion King
9.    2024
10. London’s Drowning
11. We are all Gods
12. Road of Bones
13. Discoboy Must Die
14. Dress 4 U
15. Bottle of Poison
16. My Demons

Line Up: Si Denbigh (vocals), Rosie Garland (vocals), Tom Ashton (guitar), Jo Violet (bass).