In Tape 1985. IT021
Yeah Yeah Noh, or √√X as they’re known by the cognoscenti never fail to bring a smile to my face. This was their only proper album (the others being compilations or Peel sessions) and was released near the end of their brief career. They were championed by John Peel, as was so much on this blog, but he was apparently disappointed by this album. I suspect he was less keen on their emerging competence – by this time they’d moved from being one of the most shambly of shambling bands to a pretty decent psychedelic pop outfit, albeit one with a terminally flat singer. Put another way they’d lost much of what made them so original when they first appeared. Their early stuff also bears more than a passing resemblance to The Fall, which I guess would always be popular with Peel.
Setting aside questions of style and Peel’s disappointment, this is actually a really fine album. The lyrics, always a strong point with √√X are as sharp as ever, there are good tunes, and some effective psychedelic arrangements, so providing you can handle Derek Hammond’s, er, individual approach to singing, what’s not to like? Actually what’s not to like is the rather poor sound quality – there’s a murkiness to it, which if you’re feeling generous, adds to the amateur retro thing, or just annoying otherwise.
My favourite is the gospel influenced Stealing In The Name Of The Lord (although the Peel session version is better) which is a none-too-subtle rant about religious hypocrisy, and Home-Owner Sexual (AKA Another Side To Mrs Quill) about a frustrated housewife. Blood Soup would be on the list too if it didn’t sound so murky.
I’ve re-upped my other √√X post, which is here. That also directs you to the only √√X music you can currently buy.