Bongwater: Double Bummer


Shimmy Disc 1988.  SHIMMY011


This is one of my favourite albums of the 80s.  It’s an insane sprawling psychedelic masterpiece, without doubt the highlight of Bongwater’s career, and main man Kramer too for that matter.

The most obvious starting points for getting to grips with this massive work are the large number of cover versions.  There’s a bonkers version of Led Zep’s Dazed And Confused sung in Chinese, a slowed down, dark performance of Gary Glitter’s Rock n Roll Pt II, a surprisingly straight cover of The Soft Machine’s We Did It Again, a couple of Beatles tunes.. the list goes on.

There’s lots of effective tape manipulation courtesy of Ann Magnuson which adds to the insanity – there’s something really effective about well chosen snippets of spoken word sandwiching the musical parts.  Magnuson also contributes some very surreal stories – Iranian Country Club is a favourite, and then there’s the cheeky David Bowie Wants Ideas, although he’s morphed into David Byrne by the end of the track.

Like an earlier Kramer related post, the length of this album makes it a bit overwhelming, but it is worth the effort.

Various Artists: The Bridge, A Tribute To Neil Young


Caroline Records 1989.  CAR CD 5


This album is from the days when tribute albums were quite a new idea, and it has a most impressive list of contributing artists; impressive enough to make it worth having for most people interested enough in music to end up reading this blog.

As is always the case, the album is less than the sum of its parts.  Sometimes it just provokes an overwhelming desire to dig out the Neil Young originals, which of course is no bad thing.  Loop for example are so faithful to the original that there doesn’t seem much point, but Bongwater take Mr Soul somewhere entirely new.  Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr and Nick Cave all contribute in ways that are entirely predictable, but they were on such great form in 1989 that predictability works here.

If you’re not familiar with Neil Young and like the songs here, you could do worse than get a compilation like Decade which has the original versions of some of these tracks.