Sniffin Rock 1989. SR006A7
This is another magazine freebie 7″, but since this one (despite what it says on the label) plays at 45 and doesn’t have too much music crammed onto it, it sounds OK.
The music is great too. There’s an exuberant run-through of Guest Informant by The Fall recorded live in Vienna (Get the original on The Frenz Experiment which has recently been re-issued as part of a very good value 5 CD box). There’s an insane amount of Fall live material available now, most of which isn’t worth hearing, but this is an exception; it’s sharp and well recorded. Then there’s the excellent Shamen track, Christopher Mayhew Says which is the true story of a plummy sounding MP taking LSD as an experiment, complete with hilarious samples of the man himself. I don’t have the regular release of this, so I don’t know whether this version is different. I know nothing about Silver Chapter, but this is a great organ driven Rock N Roll track – perhaps I should have taken more of an interest in them.
One Little Indian 1991. TPLP32
I bought this by mistake quite recently. I was in Polar Bear records in Brum, and there it was, a Shamen album I don’t have for £1. It was only when I got home that I realised that it’s actually every version of Move Any Mountain plus a load of samples on a triple LP. I like the track, but 19 versions? Actually according to discogs the album is mispressed and one of the mixes is repeated, so if they’re right, there’s only 18 versions. It finishes with the components of the original tracks because, in the words of the band, “We’re sick of remixing this fucker, so here are the bits, go do it yourself”. They make for an odd and unexpectedly pleasing listening experience.
You might ask why I bothered ripping the whole thing? Well taken a side at a time over several months it was fine. Anyone who managed to make it through this in one sitting deserves a prize.
This is a silly album, but I quite like the OCD nature of it, and I guess if you’re a fan it’s worth having. Some of the mixes are even quite good, especially the ones without Mr C’s rapping.
State Injustice 1989. SIJ 1
This is a very rare, but sadly not valuable benefit album released as a fund raiser for Martin Foran who was one of many victims of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad, now thankfully disbanded. Foran finally had his conviction overturned earlier this year, which seemed too little too late.
It’s a rather odd mix of tracks – from the thrashy indiepop of the Mega City Four through two obscure Welsh language punk bands, an early Shamen exclusive and the majestic Dub Syndicate, here appearing with the silky voiced Bim Sherman. There’s even some poetry from the ever reliable Brummy Benjamin Zephaniah. As you might imagine, it’s not the most coherent of albums. I guess inclusion relied more on support for the cause than anything else. Despite that, much of the material here is worthwhile, and as far as I can tell, unique to this release.
Moksha 1987. SOMACD1
Luke Marshall wanted to hear this, which seemed like a good enough reason to dig it out.
If you’re only familiar with the Shamen’s drug soaked dance records, this psychedelic pop album, their debut, might come as a bit of a surprise. It’s still recognisably them, mainly because of the vocals, but the style is very different.
It’s a strong album – the song writing is very good and they pull off the retro psychedelic sound with aplomb. Vocal harmonies, mad guitar effects; it’s all there and remarkably well played for a debut album. It also hangs together pretty well as a coherent whole.
Desire Records 1988. WANTX10
I’ve just spent a relaxing hour listening to Working Week’s debut album, and was going to post it here, but it’s just been re-issued, so you’ll just have to buy it yourselves. Instead here’s a 12″ I’ve always been rather fond of.
The Shamen earned their place in music history by their performance of Ebeneezer Goode on Top Of The Pops. As a record it was just annoying, but I remember howling with laughter when I saw them bellowing “E’s Are Good” on prime time family TV and getting away with it. However there’s much more to the Shamen than annoying records and BBC censor baiting; their earlier material is musically and lyrically really interesting. The original version of this track appeared on what I think is their best album, In Gorbachev We Trust, but this version has been revamped for dancefloor duties by Bam Bam. It contains all the usual unsubtle drug references, which are particularly appropriate on an acid house track. OK, it’s rather dated, but it has a great synth riff and is still groovy enough to inspire a bit of dad dancing around my man cave.
There will be more Shamen material later, when I’ve checked out how much of it is now unavailable.