Once A Day

Nick West's reviews for Bucketfull Of Brains and Rock'N'Reel

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Location: London, United Kingdom

Co-editor and publisher of Bucketfull Of Brains since 1996.

Friday, December 05, 2008


CERTAIN GENERAL

Certain General: Invisible New York

(EASY ACTION) www.easyaction.co.uk

New York’s Certain General are one of the lost bands of the early 80s and long overdue for a resurrection. Old hands may just remember their London appearances and Faraway In America their shared album with Band Of Outsiders. Coming out of the end of no wave and post punk they shared tendencies with Dream Syndicate, early REM, and even The Cure. Intriguingly their 1982 EP Holiday Of Love was co-produced by Peter Holsapple and Michael Gira; an interesting pairing if ever there was one.

They set out to be a “pop version of The Contortions” but there’s a strong Television influence in both the sound and the inflections of Parker Dulany’s vocals. Patti Smith also seems to be a presiding deity as there’s very much a Radio Ethiopia/Easter vibe to songs like ‘Voodoo Taxi’. She along with Modigliani and Edgar Allan Poe get name-checked in ‘Keys In The Carpet’.

This double CD features much of their material from the early to mid-80s and then brings us forward to the turn of the century when various members, particularly guitarist Phil Gammage and Dulany, started working together again. Thus it runs all the way from 1981 demos through to recent recordings. The latter include a take on ‘New York New York’ with Lenny Kaye guesting, a cool version of Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘La Decadanse’ where Dulany duets with Twin Peaks chanteuse Julee Cruise, and a Scott Walker-like version of Alain Bashung’s ‘Fantaisie Militaire’.

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